As a parent, it can be difficult to learn your child has gotten into trouble with the law. It can be even more difficult when you are not even sure how serious of a punishment your child faces.

Alcohol offenses can lead to harsh punishments in Virginia. Even though a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 is the legal limit for those over 21 years old, someone who is under the legal drinking age can be charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) offense with a BAC of 0.02 or more.

Administrative license suspension

One of the first penalties your child faces is administrative license suspension. If your child has a Virginia driver’s license, law enforcement can immediately confiscate his or her license after receiving the results of a failed BAC test. If your child has a driver’s license from a different state, law enforcement can suspend your child’s right to drive in Virginia, but cannot take his or her license. For someone’s first offense, driving privileges will only be suspended for seven days.

BAC determines the severity of additional penalties

Additional penalties will vary depending on how high your child’s BAC was. If your child is convicted of a DUI and his or her BAC was between 0.02 percent and 0.08 percent, the court will likely penalize your child with one year of suspended driving privileges and a fine of at least $500 or at least 50 hours of community service.

If your child’s BAC was 0.08 percent or greater, he or she will face the same DUI punishments as someone who is over 21 years old. For a first offense with a BAC between 0.08 percent and 0.14 percent, the penalty will likely be a year without driving privileges and a fine of at least $250.

If it was your child’s first offense but your child’s BAC was between 0.15 percent and 0.20 percent, a jail sentence of at least five days can be added to the previously listed penalties. If his or her BAC was over 0.20 percent, the minimum jail term will be 10 days, in addition to the other penalties.

If this is not your child’s first offense, the penalties will be steeper. The fines will be more expensive, the license revocation will be for a longer period of time and jail time may be added to the list of penalties.

Another consideration

In addition to the DUI consequences, your child may also face penalties for underage consumption. These can include fines between $500 and $2,500, up to 12 months in jail and driver’s license suspension for six months to a year.

DUI charges can be difficult to overcome in court and DUI convictions can come with serious consequences that may have a lasting impact in your child’s life. Often, it is worth exploring every option to help reach the best possible outcome for your child’s future.