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What are the penalties for underage drunk driving?

When your teenaged child first gets their Massachusetts driver's license, you may face a number of fears about their safety on the highway. That fear compounds when you consider it is entirely possible your child may be engaged in a drunk driving accident. You want to believe that your child would never drive drunk, particularly when the legal driving age is so far from the legal drinking age of 21. But what if your child is convicted of underage drunk driving?

Massachusetts law holds underage drivers to the standards of the Junior Operators Law, which dictates the requirements and penalties involved when driving under the age of 18 or between the ages of 18 and 21. The law covers a number of instances in which junior operators may receive a license suspension, fees or penalties. This includes reckless driving; if your teenaged child is driving drunk, this qualifies as reckless and negligent driving.

A first offense will garner your teenager a 180 day suspension and a $500 reinstatement fee. A second or any subsequent offenses result in a one year suspension, a $500 reinstatement fee and a required requalification by retaking the driver's exam. Underage drivers who refuse a breath test may also face automatic suspension of their license for an additional period. Penalties may increase if the underage driver is involved in a drunk driving accident that results in injury or death to another party.

This is an informational blog post provided only as a reference, and it should not be used or misconstrued as legal advice.

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