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For Virginia teens, driving is a new experience and rite of approaching adulthood. It is also a responsibility that requires the adherence of applicable laws to juveniles with accompanying penalties under the juvenile law system if they are violated. Juvenile delinquents can face numerous penalties such as license suspension or a curfew as to the hours they can drive. With alcohol, drug or firearm offenses, the driving privileges can be revoked.

If a juvenile received what are known as "demerit points," these will be added up when there is a conviction of a moving violation. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will be informed when these occur. Accruing violations can result in a driver's license suspension. Zero tolerance is for juvenile drivers who are convicted of underage drinking and driving.

Anyone under age 21 cannot drive after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. There will be a suspension of driving privileges for one year and either a minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service. When a driver is asked by law enforcement to provide a blood or breath sample to determine if there is alcohol or drugs in the system, it must be provided. A conviction for refusal can result in a loss of driving privileges for one year.

Juveniles must also be aware of the law against using their cell phones while driving. A driver who is under 18 cannot use the device or any other communication device while driving whether it is handheld or not. Drivers are also prohibited from sending text messages or taking part in other activities on their phones. It can be used in the event of an emergency or when the car is stopped or parked. If caught, the traffic offense can result in a fine of $125 for the first offense and a fine of $250 for subsequent offenses.

Juveniles who are facing accusations of a juvenile criminal offense related to driving need to know how to formulate a strong defense to avoid the various punishments that can accumulate. Their lives can be negatively affected with a conviction of underage drinking and driving and other offenses. Speaking to a legal professional experienced in helping those charged with a juvenile offense can help to plan a defense.

Source: virginiarules.com, "Keeping Your Driver's License -- Keeping a driver's license," accessed on Jan. 1, 2016

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