Early Sunday morning, University of Georgia freshman defensive lineman Bill Norton was arrested for driving under the influence. Norton was booked into Athens-Clarke County Jail at 4:25 a.m. on charges of DUI, failure to maintain lane/improper driving, and underage possession of alcohol.
Other than these serious charges, Norton is also looking at school-related consequences as well. The University of Georgia had made a strong stance against substance-abuse offenses relating to operating a vehicle. UGA's Athletic Association Student-Athlete Handbook explains that a DUI is a “Level II” violation – a serious offense that is equal to testing positive on a drug test. Violators are required to participate in Georgia's “comprehensive action plan for felony crimes and DUIs.” This includes being placed in alcohol and drug awareness programs, an automatic suspension from games, and possibly being subjected to a drug-testing panel. In the past, UGA football players who receive DUIs are automatically suspended for two games.
As a Gwinnett County DUI Lawyer, I know that the consequences of a DUI are severe – but the consequences of an underage DUI are even more so. In today's post, I'm going to be talking about the implications of an underage DUI in Gwinnett County.
Unexpected Consequences of an Underage DUI
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(k) provides that a person under the age of 21 shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended. This 0.02 BAC limit is considerably lower than the 0.08 limit imposed on those aged 21 and over.
The legally imposed punishments of underage DUI are similar to those imposed on adult violators. However, underage drivers will face a license suspension period of six or twelve months, depending on the BAC results. An underage driver also faces a term of imprisonment from anywhere between 24 hours to 12 months, as well as community service.
Other than the punishments required by law, underage drivers who are convicted of DUI have even more to lose. As I discussed above, Bill Norton is facing additional penalties from his university that will likely affect both his academic and athletic careers. Though the scrutiny may be higher because Norton is an athlete, this kind of pushback is not unheard of. An underage DUI can affect your ability to get into the university of you've always wanted to attend, prevent you from obtaining your dream job, and even stop you from moving into certain apartment complexes.
As you can see, the effects of a DUI conviction go much farther than what is imposed by law. A blemish so early on your criminal record could have lifelong consequences. With that being said, your case is not hopeless. A qualified attorney will be able to work with you to explore the options that will lead to the best possible outcome. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, our team of Gwinnett County DUI Lawyers is dedicated to making sure you have the best defense possible. DUIs can be scary and confusing, especially if you are under 21. We are here to help you through the process. Give our office a call today.
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