All Alabama drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle while under the influence or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. But drivers who are under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) for operating with a BAC of .02% to .08%. This article explains the details of an "underage DUI" violation along with the possible penalties.
A driver who's younger than 21 years old who operates a vehicle with a BAC of .02% to .08% can be convicted of an underage DUI violation. A conviction will count as a prior DUI on the offender's court record (for purposes of sentencing for subsequent DUI convictions) but will not be disclosed on any public records.
Of course, an underage driver with a BAC of .08% or more could instead face the penalties for a standard DUI.
While considered a DUI conviction, the penalties for a first-offense underage DUI are substantially lighter than those for a standard DUI. A first-offense underage DUI does not carry jail time or fines but will result in a 30-day driver's license suspension. The offender must also attend and complete a DUI or substance abuse court referral program prior to license reinstatement. Depending on the judge, the offender might also be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) on all operated vehicles.
Repeat offenses. The leniency granted to underage offenders disappears for a repeated violation. A second or subsequent DUI will carry the standard second-offense DUI penalties. The consequences include five days to one year in jail, $1,100 to $5,100 in fines, a one-year license revocation, and two years of IID restrictions.
Implied consent. All drivers lawfully arrested for impaired driving are required to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to measure BAC at the request of an officer. This rule (called "implied consent") likewise applies to underage offenders. An unlawful refusal will result in a 90-day suspension for a first refusal and a one-year suspension for a second offense.
Alabama does allow "diversions" for DUI charges. Generally, the offender is required to complete a substance abuse course, install an IID, and abstain from other violations for a specified period of time. In return, the DUI charge can be dismissed outright. Consult with an attorney to find out if you may be eligible for a diversion or other program.