Children 16 years of age and younger are not capable of committing a criminal offense, in the eyes of the state. Children are not subject to a court process by which they are found guilty or not guilty, rather their case is heard in a specialized juvenile court which finds whether they are 'delinquent.' Only if a child over the age of 12 commits a heinous crime may they be tried as adults in Georgia. If your child has been charged with juvenile DUI or a related traffic offense, rest assured this is not a ‘serious' or ‘heinous' crime that would warrant trial as an adult.
If your child is 16 years or younger, their case will be heard in a Georgia Juvenile Court. At this stressful time, you will be relieved to know that no conviction for any offense in juvenile court will go on your child's criminal record. Juvenile offenses are not even legally classified as crimes. If your child is 17 or older, their case will be treated as a standard DUI case, to be heard in either municipal, state or superior court - depending on where it occurred and the gravity of the offense. They will be sentenced as an adult and a conviction will go on their criminal record. If your child is currently 17 or older but what was 16 or younger at the time of arrest, then their case will be heard in juvenile court. Although juvenile offenses are not ‘crimes,' there are still sanctions against them. If your child received a DUI charge in Hall County and is young enough to be tried in juvenile court, they must report to the Hall County Juvenile Court. It is in your child's best interest to arrive with a skilled legal representative who is familiar with the laws and procedures in Hall County.
The stakes are increased if your child is over the age of 16 and was charged with drunk driving; a DUI conviction on their record could impede future job prospects and affect their ability to go to college, obtain financial aid, affordable insurance or secure a loan. A criminal conviction is an extremely serious matter, not to be taken lightly. For more information about adult DUI charges, click here.
Hall County DUI attorney Richard Lawson will look for holes in the prosecution's case against your child, and exploit every legal avenue to reduce or dismiss their charges. With your child's future at stake, do not wait to contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson. Former DUI prosecutor Richard Lawson is equipped with 20 years experience defending DUI charges. He possesses an expert knowledge of Hall County law and began his career defending Juvenile DUI charges. Securing an adept legal representative is the first step toward peace of mind at this difficult time. After taking on your case, Richard Lawson will be present at your next court date, prepared to fight for your child's rights.
Just as they are subject to a different court process, juveniles are also subject to different laws than adults. The blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC) is .08 in every state except Utah. If an adult is found driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, they could be charged with DUI. If a juvenile is found driving with a BAC of .02 with three hours of driving, they can be charged with juvenile DUI. Georgia law stipulates that a person is not legally under the influence of alcohol until their BAC is .05 or over, meaning your child could be charged with driving under the influence even if they were not impaired. The .08 limit applies only to those 21 or over, meaning 17-20-year-olds charged with DUI are at a point of particular legal vulnerability. They will be tried as adults, potentially for BACs that were only over .02. If your child did not consent to a breathalyzer test, or their BAC was below .08, there is a mandatory license suspension period of 6 months. If their BAC was .08 or over, the license suspension increases to 12 months. They will not be able to obtain a limited driving permit or be granted early reinstatement. If their BAC was below .08 but their license has been previously suspended for a different traffic offense, the period is 12 months.
Rehabilitation is the chief goal of juvenile courts, far above imposing punitive sanctions. If your child is not acquitted, they will be determined unruly or delinquent, in which case they are in need of treatment and rehabilitation. However, juvenile courts offer a number of alternatives to former trial. If the case is informally adjudicated, the court will dismiss the charge if your child completes an informal probation during which they generate no new offenses. They may be put on formal probation for a period not to exceed two years, during which they may receive counseling, do community service and be assigned a probation officer. It is also possible that the child's custody may be temporarily granted to the state whilst they complete treatment. There is also the option of a pretrial diversion program, which if completed, could lead to an expungement of your child's charges. Common requirements for such a program include payment of a program fee, community service, alcohol or drug awareness courses, an essay, or a personal development class. If completed, the license suspension will not go into effect.
Although the juvenile court protects young adults from permanent convictions on their criminal record, a DUI arrest may still reflect on their driving record. A Hall County DUI lawyer can work to protect the confidentiality of your child's records so that this does not happen. Richard Lawson will evaluate all of the evidence against your child and determine the best course of action. He explores every legal means of getting the charge against your child dropped or reduced. Do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson at any time of day, 24/7.