The reality is that people under 21 are often charged with fairly minor offenses, that unfortunately can end up on a permanent criminal histories that can affect their future employment opportunities. Based on decades of helping teens and young adults successfully fight DUI charges, Christopher James has put together simple tips for staying on the right side of the law and avoiding driving under the influence in the Commonwealth of Virginia:
- Do not carry anything in your vehicle that is illegal.
- Do not carry anything on your person that is illegal.
- Do not carry false identification or multiple, conflicting identification.
- Have everything on your vehicle in order, such as up-to-date inspections, tags and decals, and make sure all lights and signals function properly.
- Do not take part in “group think.” If you are with one or two friends that are doing something wrong, do not go along for the ride. Excuse yourself even if it’s not your idea. or peer pressure is involved the police almost always charge the entire group and figure it out later.
- Do not commute in your own vehicle between 12:00 midnight and 4am.
- Do not draw attention to yourself in large gatherings if alcohol is present.
- If you do get pulled over, be respectful of the police. On the scene is not the time to argue your case.
- Whatever you hear in the media can be misleading. Police rarely discriminate based on anything other than your age. If you are under 30 when stopped you are much more likely to be searched, and they do this under the notion they are “community caretakers” and concerned for your safety.
- Understand that there are many, many exceptions to search and seizure law, for instance” the plain view exception”, “consent exception”, and search incident to arrest exception and others. The rights you think you may have usually only apply fully when you are in your home but not on the street or in your car.
How does this all tie together? It’s simple; excepting serious felonies, most cases that I have handled for young adults are very similar when broken down. One basic example: A suburban teenager stays late at a party and leaves at 2am thinking its only three miles home and does not want to bother his parents. He forgot to get his car inspected because he was busy, and also has something illegal in the glove box, because he does not want his parents to find it in his sock drawer. He makes it halfway home, and then runs that annoying stop sign in his community. Blue lights flash and 5 minutes later he is sitting there with three charges and a lot of explaining to do when he gets home. Sound familiar? This story is not about an out of control kid. But did he follow the simple above rules? No.
CONCLUSION: I am not a counsellor trying to tell you how to live your life. Go out and have fun. Instead, my role is to tell you how not to pick up needless criminal charges. Just learn the above 10 steps and follow them. Avoid DUI/DWI charges by avoiding trouble in the first place.