Are there different laws relating to driving under the influence under age 21?

Yes. Virginia has zero tolerance for drivers under age 21 who drive while under the influence of alcohol. 

The legal drinking age in Virginia is 21. It is against the law to drink under the age of 21, and thus, all persons under the age of 21 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Any person under 21 with a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or higher, or less than 0.08 by weight by volume shall be in violation of this law. 

A violation/conviction under Virginia Code Section 18.2-266.1 is a misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a possible fine of up to $2,500 and/or a sentence of up to 12 months in jail. Punishment must include:

  • (i) forfeiture of such person’s license to operate a motor vehicle for a period of one year from the date of conviction and
  • (ii) a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or performance of a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service. 

Certain blood alcohol levels will result in mandatory minimum jail time of up to ten days. Subsequent convictions will result in increased fines, increased license suspension, and increased jail confinement. 

Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be eligible to attend an Alcohol Safety Action Program under the provisions of Virginia Code Section 18.2-271.1 and may, in the discretion of the court, be issued a restricted license during the term of license suspension for reasons such as work, school, medical appointments, etc. As a condition of having a restricted license, the court will require you to have installed in your vehicle an ignition-interlock system, for which you will have to pay a significant fee. This system will not allow you to operate the vehicle unless you give an alcohol-free breath sample before starting the vehicle. 

Information is power. Share it!

Related Topics