Underage DUI offenses in Nebraska are taken very seriously, with the state aggressively prosecuting these cases. Even a small amount of alcohol in the system of an underage driver is considered unlawful. Depending on the circumstances, even first-time individuals can face jail time, fines, and other significant consequences.

Because of what is at stake, individuals who are either facing charges or trying to avoid a run in with the law should carefully read the following information. Below, Liberty Law Group explains what a DUI is in Nebraska, the penalties involved, potential alternatives to imprisonment, various defenses against criminal charges, and why it makes sense to hire an underage DUI attorney immediately if charged with an offense.

Omaha Underage DUI Lawyer

Our criminal defense attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to defend you in the case of underage DUI charges. These charges can severely impact your future and without proper representation, those charged could have difficulty getting into college, finding employment and facing other difficulties.

If you or a loved one have been charged with underage DUI, call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Underage DUI

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What is Underage DUI?

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.01 makes it illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to operate motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol. The law sets forth two key conditions that could result in a DUI:

  • It is illegal for a person under 21 years old to operate or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.02% or higher, but still below 0.08%. This is quantified as two-hundredths of one gram or more of alcohol for each one hundred milliliters of blood.
  • Similarly, if a person under 21 has a breath alcohol concentration of 0.02% or more but less than 0.08%, they are also in violation of the law. This is measured as two-hundredths of one gram of alcohol for each two hundred ten liters of breath.

The 0.02% threshold is significantly lower than the 0.08% limit set for individuals aged 21 and over, reflecting a stricter stance on underage drinking and driving. Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.04 also states that an underage DUI charge does not stop an individual from being charged with more severe DUI violations. For example, an individual who is 19 years who has a BAC of 0.15% could face an underage DUI charge plus a DUI charge under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196.

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What is Implied Consent?

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.02 establishes the “implied consent” rule for chemical testing in DUI cases. This means that anyone who drives in Nebraska automatically agrees to undergo tests to determine their blood or breath alcohol concentration if suspected of DUI. Specifically, if a person under 21 is suspected of DUI, a police officer can require them to take a preliminary breath test. Refusing this test, or failing it, leads to arrest.

After arrest, the person may be required to undergo further chemical testing. If the test shows an alcohol level violating the underage DUI law (Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.01), the person faces an infraction punishable by up to a $500 fine. Also, their driver’s license will be impounded for 30 days per violation. If they refuse the test, they won’t be forced to take it, but will still face an infraction and a 90-day license impoundment for the refusal.

However, according to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.03, someone’s license who is impounded may still be able to operate their vehicle to get to and from work. And according to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.07, the individual’s driver’s license is returned by the court at the end of the impoundment period.

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Ignition Interlock Devices and Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Devices

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.05, courts can order the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicles of DUI individuals. An IID is a device that prevents a car from starting if it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. Individuals must install it in every vehicle they operate and apply for a special permit to use these vehicles.

Additionally, the court may require individuals to use a continuous alcohol monitoring device and abstain from alcohol completely. This device regularly checks the person’s alcohol levels and reports them to authorities. Violating these orders, like tampering with the devices or consuming alcohol, can result in revocation of the ignition interlock permit and further legal consequences.

The individual typically pays the costs of these devices. Also, if someone tampers with an IID, the service facility must report it, and failure to do so is a misdemeanor.

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Other Collateral Consequences

In Nebraska, a DUI conviction carries collateral consequences that significantly affect an individual’s criminal record, with lasting impacts. This offense can hinder employment opportunities, as employers often conduct background checks, and a DUI record may lead to negative perceptions.

Educational opportunities and professional licensing might also be compromised, as colleges, universities, and licensing boards consider criminal histories. Additionally, insurance rates often increase significantly post-DUI, reflecting the individual’s heightened risk profile to insurers.

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What is the Main DUI Law in Nebraska?

Driving under the influence (DUI), as outlined in Nebraska’s statute 60-6,196, involves operating or having control over a motor vehicle in certain prohibited conditions. These conditions are:

  • While being influenced by alcohol or any drug that impairs their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
  • When the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above 0.08%. This is a specific measurement where the weight of alcohol in the bloodstream reaches or exceeds eight-hundredths of one gram per one hundred milliliters of blood.
  • Similarly, a person is in violation if their breath alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08%. This is measured as eight-hundredths of one gram of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath.

The consequences for a DUI conviction in Nebraska vary based on the driver’s BAC level and their history of prior offenses. A first DUI offense is typically classified as a Class W misdemeanor, leading to penalties such as 0-60 days in jail, a $500 fine, a six-month license revocation, and the requirement to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Harsher penalties are imposed for higher BAC levels (0.15% or more) or for refusing the testing, including longer periods of license revocation and potential jail time.

For repeat DUI offenses or felony offenses, the penalties become much worse. These may include mandatory minimum jail sentences, years of license revocation, and double the normal fines.

Under Nebraska Revised Statutes 60-498.01 and 60-498.02, If a person is arrested for DUI and either refuses a chemical test or the test indicates a BAC in excess of state limits, their license is subject to immediate confiscation and revocation. The revocation becomes effective 15 days after the arrest. The individual can apply for an ignition interlock permit or enroll in the 24/7 sobriety program as an alternative, allowing them to drive under specific conditions.

For a first-time individual with a positive test but no prior revocations, the ignition interlock permit is available after 15 days. However, for those with prior offenses or who refused the test, 45 no-driving periods apply before they can obtain the permit. The duration of license revocation varies based on the specifics of the offense and the individual’s prior record.

For those convicted of DUI offenses who receive probation, Nebraska courts may order an alcohol assessment to be conducted by a licensed counselor. The individual bears the cost of this evaluation, which aims to assess the extent of their alcohol dependency issues. The results of this assessment play a major role in the judge’s sentencing decision and may include following specific recommendations, including mandatory alcohol abstinence and the use of ignition interlock devices and alcohol monitoring devices.

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Other Penalties for Nebraska Juveniles in Alcohol-Related Violations

In Nebraska, specific penalties are outlined for minors involved in alcohol-related offenses. If a minor between 18 to 21 years old violates Nebraska Revised Statute 53-180.02, which involves consuming or possessing alcohol in prohibited areas such as inside a vehicle, they are guilty of a Class III misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

In Nebraska, minors under 18 years old face penalties for alcohol-related offenses under Nebraska Revised Statute 53-181. For the first offense, the minor is charged with a Class III misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. They also face a 30-day impoundment of any driver’s licenses or permits and mandatory attendance in an alcohol education class.

A second offense also results in a Class III misdemeanor, but with a 90-day license impoundment, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and alcohol education. For the third or subsequent offenses, the penalties increase to a one-year license impoundment, 60 hours of community service, alcohol education, and an alcohol assessment.

However, if the minor seeks emergency medical help for an alcohol overdose situation for themselves or someone else and meets certain conditions, such as cooperation with law enforcement, they may be exempt from criminal charges.

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Potential Defenses to Underage DUI

In Nebraska, several defenses can be employed for someone charged with underage DUI. One key defense is challenging the legality of the traffic stop. If the stop wasn’t legally justified, then evidence obtained, including alcohol test results, may be deemed inadmissible in court. It could be argued that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the stop.

Another defense focuses on whether the individual was actually operating or in control of the vehicle, a requirement under Nebraska DUI law. This defense could be valid even if the individual was intoxicated, as long as they weren’t operating or controlling the vehicle.

The accuracy and procedure of breath tests, both preliminary breath tests and evidentiary breath tests, are also grounds for defense. If the tests were not administered correctly or the equipment wasn’t properly calibrated or maintained, the results could be contested. Similarly, if the officer administering the test wasn’t certified, this could be a significant point for defense.

Field sobriety tests are also subject to scrutiny. Factors like the individual’s physical condition, footwear, medical issues, or the environment where the tests were conducted can affect the results. If tests were improperly conducted or evaluated, their reliability as indicators of impairment could be challenged.

In cases involving blood or urine tests, the defense can question the chain of custody and handling of the samples. Errors in documentation, labeling, storage, or deviations from standard procedures can cast doubt on the evidence’s reliability.

Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluations can be challenged, particularly their training, methods used, and accuracy of their conclusions. Similarly, if an officer without specialized training in recognizing drug impairment made the arrest, their judgment could be questioned.

Additionally, medical conditions that might affect BAC readings or mimic intoxication symptoms can be used as a defense.

Discrepancies or inaccuracies in police reports or procedures, including violations of Miranda rights or the right to consult an attorney, can become part of the defense strategy as well.

Lastly, a defense of emergency or involuntary intoxication might be applicable in specific situations, although it’s typically difficult to prove and dependent on the case’s circumstances.

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Potential Expungement of Some Records, Not Others

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,211.06 deals with how underage DUIs are recorded and eventually removed (expunged) from a person’s driving record. It states that if someone’s license is impounded because they refused a chemical test for DUI, this violation is recorded in their driving record, maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

There are two scenarios for how long this violation stays on record. First, if a person’s license is impounded but they did not refuse the chemical test, the violation stays on their record for up to 90 days. After this period, the DMV will remove (expunge) it from their record. Second, if a person’s license is impounded because they refused the chemical test, the violation stays on their record for up to 120 days. After this period, it will also be expunged from their record.

However, it’s important to note that a DUI conviction under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196 generally cannot be expunged.

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How a Lawyer Can Help

A DUI lawyer in Nebraska provides helpful assistance to individuals charged with underage DUI. They guide clients through the legal process, offering advice on the implications of a DUI charge and representing them in court, ensuring their rights are protected.

These lawyers evaluate evidence, such as police reports and test results, to find inaccuracies or inconsistencies that could lead to reduced charges or case dismissal.

In situations where the evidence against the client is strong, DUI attorneys can negotiate plea bargains with prosecutors, potentially securing reduced charges or lighter sentencing. They also assist with issues related to license revocation, representing clients in DMV hearings, and advising on steps to regain driving privileges, like installing ignition interlock devices.

DUI attorneys in Nebraska also explore alternative sentencing options like probation, which may include community service or enrollment in educational programs, potentially reducing or replacing jail time. They develop personalized defense strategies based on each case’s unique aspects, considering factors like prior offenses and the severity of the charge.

Finally, lawyers ensure clients’ constitutional rights are upheld, including lawful police conduct during arrest and proper administration of tests, which is essential for a fair legal process. To the extent that the police violated the individual’s rights, the case could be thrown out.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an underage DUI in Nebraska?

Driving under the age of 21 with 0.02% BAC or higher, which is lower than the standard DUI threshold of 0.08%.

Will I go to jail for an underage DUI?

Jail is possible; depends on BAC level and prior offenses.

Can I fight an underage DUI in court?

Yes, through legal defenses like challenging the stop’s legality or test accuracy.

Will my license be suspended for an underage DUI in Nebraska?

License impoundment for 30 days for failing test, 90 days for refusal to submit to DUI test.

Will I be able to drive even if my license gets suspended for an underage DUI in Nebraska?

Driving is possible for work with a specific permit during the impoundment period.

How long will an underage DUI stay on my record?

Recorded on driving record for 90-120 days, then expunged. A standard DUI conviction cannot be expunged.

What is the fine for an underage DUI?

Fine up to $500, plus potential for additional penalties.

Can I refuse field sobriety tests?

Refusal is possible but may lead to immediate arrest for DUI.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test for DUI?

Refusal results in an infraction and 90-day license impoundment.

Will I lose my job for an underage DUI?

Job loss depends on the employer’s policies, especially for roles involving driving.

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Additional Resources

Teen Driving Facts and Statistics: This Nebraska Department of Transportation summary provides information and data on teen drivers (under 19) and discusses Nebraska’s “zero tolerance” law for minor drivers (under 21). Also provides links to other parent and teen driver resources.

DUI Laws for Drivers Under 21: This article summarizes laws in each state on impaired driving under 21 and provides links and summaries of relevant state laws restricting minor drivers. Also discusses “zero tolerance laws” that each state has enacted for underage DUI and implied consent laws that are part of driving privileges.

Nebraska Underage DUI laws: This article gives a summary and discussion of potential penalties and additional criminal charges that may apply, depending on the facts of the case. Also notes that underage DUI drivers in the state are responsible for 12% of impaired driving fatalities.

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Find an Underage DUI Lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska

Our firm proudly serves Omaha in Douglas County, including Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Fremont in Dodge County and Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for underage DUI, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

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