In 2018, the Nebraska Department of Transportation reported that 32.8% of Nebraska’s fatal crashes involved alcohol.
Despite the legal drinking age of 21 in Nebraska, drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 make up 11.8% of alcohol-related crashes. In an attempt to lower this number, Nebraska imposes serious penalties for underage DUI.
If you or a loved one are facing underage DUI charges in Nebraska, contact an experienced DUI attorney today.
What Is Underage DUI in Nebraska?
Underage DUI means exactly what it sounds like. It involves a driver under the age of 21 driving under the influence of an intoxicant.
Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 60-6,196 prohibits motorists from operating or having actual physical control of a motor vehicle:
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.
However, Nebraska also imposes a “zero tolerance law” against underage drivers, meaning that underage drivers cannot legally operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08%.
What Is the Penalty for Underage DUI?
The penalty for underage DUI typically involves both administrative and criminal penalties. Upon conviction for underage DUI with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08%, the court will suspend your driver’s license for 30 days.
If your BAC was above .08%, you could receive normal DUI charges. Nebraska considers a first-time DUI conviction a Class W misdemeanor.
A Class W misdemeanor carries the following potential penalties:
- A minimum of seven days in jail;
- A maximum of 60 days in jail;
- Fine of up to $500;
- License revocation for a period of between six months and one year; or
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program.
Alternatively, the court can place you on probation or suspend your jail sentence. If your BAC is above .15%, you’ll face more severe consequences for the DUI.
Along with criminal penalties, having an underage DUI conviction on your record can negatively impact your life in other ways.
For example, you could face difficulty finding employers willing to hire you with an underage DUI conviction on your record.
Other situations a criminal conviction can impact include applying for a loan, receiving scholarships for college, and obtaining approval for a house.
What Is Implied Consent?
When you operate a vehicle on Nebraska roadways, you automatically consent to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the concentration of alcohol or the presence of drugs.
To request a chemical test, the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe you were operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you refuse a chemical test, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles will revoke your driving privilege for one year. The criminal penalties for a first refusal include:
- Between seven and 60 days in jail;
- A $500 fine; and
- Six months of license revocation.
If you go to trial for DUI, the prosecutor can introduce your refusal as evidence that you attempted to conceal your intoxication.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
All defendants in a criminal action are entitled to legal counsel. In fact, this is a cornerstone of the American legal system.
We understand that you might feel intimidated by the thought of hiring an attorney. But doing so is one of the best ways to protect your rights and reduce or even avoid any penalty for underage DUI in Nebraska.
For example, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you:
- Compile facts and evidence to help support your defense;
- Determine the best methods available in your case to challenge your DUI charges;
- Negotiate plea deals; and
- Prepare for and take your case to trial when necessary.
In short, having an attorney in your corner can greatly improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome when it matters most.
Petersen Criminal Defense Law: Your DUI Defense Attorney
Dealing with a DUI charge can be scary and overwhelming. And matters can become even more complicated in cases of underage DUI.
Fortunately, however, you don’t have to go through this process alone.
At Petersen Criminal Defense Law, we have been fighting zealously for the rights of our clients since 1995. We have a record of success, and we hope we have the opportunity to fight for you too.
Attorney Tom Petersen has the tools, resources, and experience necessary to help you with your defense. Are you looking for a knowledgeable attorney who will handle your case with care and do what it takes to get you the legal outcome you need and deserve?
Contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law today for a free case evaluation and see what we can do for you.