It is midnight, the phone rings, and on the other end is your teenager. They are safe but currently at the police station after officers arrested them for driving under the influence (DUI). Your teen now faces a serious charge that may have repercussions throughout their life.

What can a parent do? Thankfully, underage drivers have a few options available to avoid the worst of a DUI charge. The first step in fighting to protect one’s rights is to understand the penalties they might face.

An underage DUI incurs harsh penalties

Drunk drivers under the age of 21 will face charges for either a standard DUI or an underage DUI. The charge will depend on the nature of the arrest and the prosecution’s case. A solid defense from a local lawyer may help your teenager secure a lower charge with alternate sentencing.

Standard DUI offenses carry the following punishments:

  • Between 48 hours and 11 months and 29 days in jail
  • Monetary fines totaling $350 to $1,150
  • One-year license suspension

Judges may allow your teen to serve jail time on a work-release program or suspend the sentence entirely in exchange for probationary measures, which may include vehicle forfeiture and a license suspension.

Tennessee law considers an underage DUI a misdemeanor and issues lighter penalties:

  • A judge may order the offender to complete community service hours instead of jail
  • $250 in fines
  • One-year license suspension without the option for a restricted license

A strong legal defense can protect your kid’s future

Many people with a criminal record face challenges when looking for a new job, securing their first apartment or applying for loans. Records of the arrest and the resulting charges will show up in background checks for the rest of your child’s life. Parents who hire a local attorney familiar with Tennessee’s DUI laws have more success in securing reduced charges and clearing their teenager’s criminal record.