Car crash on the road at night.

Fatal DUI Crash Charges for Juvenile Offenders

Was your teen arrested for driving under the influence after getting into a fatality accident in Minneapolis? Learning more about fatal DUI crash charges for juvenile offenders and the penalties that may apply can help you make informed decisions about how to proceed. At Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys, we’ll answer your questions, address your concerns, and work to make sure your teen’s rights, and freedom, are protected.

Car crash on the road at night.

Understanding DUI Charges in Minnesota for Teenagers

Minnesota is tough on underage drinking and driving. The laws that apply to teens who are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Minnesota are different from those that apply to adults. Understanding the BAC limits, the penalties your teenager may face if convicted, and what to do if your underage driver is facing charges for DUI is crucial.

What Is Minnesota’s Not-a-Drop Law?

Minnesota’s Not-a-Drop Law prohibits any driver who is under the age of 21 and driving, operating, or in control of a motor vehicle from:

  • consuming alcoholic beverages in any amount, or
  • having physical evidence in his or her body of having previously consumed any alcoholic beverage

A violation of Minnesota’s Not-a-Drop Law is a misdemeanor. If convicted, the teen will face up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If this is the teen’s first offense, he or she will face license suspension for 30 days. For a second offense, the license suspension increases to 180 days.

Aggravating factors, such as prior convictions, a higher level of intoxication, or causing an injury or fatality accident, can result in increased penalties or additional administrative consequences or criminal charges.

Vanessa’s Law

If the driver is under 18, Vanessa’s Law brings extra administrative consequences. Under the law, the minor will be prohibited from driving until he or she turns 18.

If the teen is currently unlicensed, he or she will need to pay license reinstatement fees, pass all testing requirements, and hold an instruction permit for six months before being allowed to obtain a regular license.

If the driver is already licensed, the offender will not be permitted to drive until he or she turns 18. At that time, the teen will need to retake the written test, attend a driving class, pay a license reinstatement fee, and hold the instruction permit for three months.

Additional Charges Your Teen May Be Facing

It’s not uncommon for teens who are facing DUI charges to also be charged with violating other laws. Examples include:

Minnesota’s Underage Consumption Law

Minnesota’s Underage Consumption Law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from:

  • Consuming any alcoholic beverage without the permission and supervision of a parent or guardian
  • Attempting to purchase, or purchasing alcohol
  • Having possession of alcohol with the intent to consume it
  • Entering a liquor store or bar with the intention of buying alcohol
  • Misrepresenting his or her age to purchase alcohol

A violation of the state’s Underage Consumption law is also a misdemeanor, and it is punishable by up to 90 days behind bars and up to $1,000 in fines.

Minnesota’s Open Bottle Law

Under the state’s Open Bottle Law, it is a crime for anyone to consume or be in possession of an open container of alcohol while inside a motor vehicle on a public road – even if the person is not under the influence. This is also a misdemeanor offense, and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.

Other Criminal Charges and Traffic Violations

If your teen was arrested for DUI after a fatal accident, he or she may also be facing criminal charges or traffic tickets for speeding, reckless driving, or leaving the scene of an accident. If an accident occurred, and someone suffered severe injuries or died, the criminal charges your teenager is facing are likely going to be more serious.

Is Your Teenage Driver Facing Fatal DUI Crash Charges?

If your teenager was arrested for causing a fatality accident while he or she was allegedly under the influence, the time to hire a DWI lawyer is now. Criminal vehicular homicide, defined as causing death in an act that does not constitute murder or manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle, is a serious crime and the penalties for someone who is convicted are harsh. If the defendant is 16 or over, he will likely be charged as an adult.

Criminal vehicular homicide is a felony, and is punishable by up to $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison for a first offense. If there are prior alcohol or drug violations within the last 10 years, the maximum prison time is increased to 15 years.

The Court Process for Minnesota Juveniles Facing Fatal DUI Charges

The court process for juveniles in Minnesota varies, depending on the age of the defendant and the charges he or she is facing. For the most part, juveniles who are charged with crimes will have the same basic rights as adults. Detention options, questioning, and trial processes may be a bit different, however.

Juvenile Rights While in Custody

The rights of juveniles in Minnesota include:

  •  The Right To Legal Counsel
  • Notification of Charges
  • Right To Protection From Harm
  • The Right Against Self-Incrimination
  • Bail and Detention Hearings
  • Appeal Rights

What Happens After the Accident?

In Minnesota, when a juvenile driver’s actions behind the wheel result in a fatal DUI accident, the legal consequences of a conviction are severe. Here’s what you might expect to happen from the time of the fatality accident.

1.      Investigation and Arrest: Law enforcement will investigate the fatality accident, gathering evidence and conducting sobriety tests. If probable cause exists, the juvenile is arrested and charged with criminal vehicular homicide. Getting a criminal defense lawyer is critical.

2.      Detention Hearing: A judge determines if the juvenile is detained before trial, considering public safety and flight risk. In some cases, juveniles may be released to the supervision of parents or guardians. Other times, teens may be held in juvenile detention facilities.

3.      Preliminary Hearings: Motions and arguments regarding evidence and procedures are presented in preliminary hearings before the trial. The juvenile may have the opportunity to participate in diversion programs or treatment options aimed at addressing substance abuse or underlying mental health issues. An attorney plays a crucial role in representing the juvenile’s best interests, negotiating with prosecutors, and presenting evidence in the teen’s defense

4.      Trial: If no plea agreement is reached, the case goes to trial before a judge. When fatal DUI crash charges are involved, juveniles who are 16 or over in Minnesota may not be afforded the opportunity to have their cases heard in juvenile court. The core of the case, the trial is where evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and the judge or jury determines guilt or innocence.

5.      Disposition: If the juvenile is found guilty, the judge will determine the consequences. For a teenager facing fatal DUI crash charges, these penalties can be severe, especially if more than one victim died, other people were severely injured, the BAC was above 0.16, or there are prior drug or alcohol-related convictions.

Do You Need to Hire a Criminal Lawyer for Fatal DUI Crash Charges?

If your loved one faces fatal DUI charges in Minnesota, hiring a criminal lawyer is not just advisable, it’s essential. Here’s why:

Navigating a Complex System: Understanding the rules of evidence, procedures, and potential outcomes requires knowledge beyond the scope of the average individual. A lawyer can navigate this complex system, protecting your teen’s rights and maximizing the chances of a favorable outcome.

Building a Strong Defense: Building a strong defense against fatal DUI charges demands meticulous investigation, evidence analysis, and strategic legal arguments. A skilled lawyer will delve into the specifics of the case, gathering crucial evidence, analyzing potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and exploring alternative explanations for the accident. Attorneys can also negotiate with prosecutors for plea bargains or work towards minimizing penalties.

Protecting Your Rights: Throughout the legal process, your teen’s constitutional rights are paramount. A lawyer ensures they’re upheld at every stage. This includes advising on the right to remain silent, ensuring proper search and seizure procedures were followed, and safeguarding your teen’s privacy. Attorneys can also challenge any violations of your rights.

Understanding the Stakes: The consequences of a fatal DUI conviction are life-altering. They can involve lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, driver’s license suspension, and lasting social stigma. A lawyer can explain the full range of consequences and work towards minimizing their impact on the life of your loved one.

Making Informed Decisions: Navigating the legal system requires making crucial decisions at every stage. A lawyer can provide informed legal advice tailored to your teen’s specific situation. Attorneys will explain the pros and cons of different options, allowing you to make informed choices that align with your teen’s best interests.Considering the complexity of the legal system, the serious nature of the charges, and the life-altering consequences involved, hiring a criminal lawyer is highly recommended. For legal representation you can trust, contact Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys today.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.