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Defending Against Underage DUI Charges in West Virginia

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in any state, and West Virginia is no exception. For underage individuals, the consequences of a DUI can be even more severe, as the state takes a firm stance against impaired driving among young drivers.

If you or someone you know is facing underage DUI charges in West Virginia, it is essential to understand the legal process and the available defenses. This comprehensive guide will outline the steps to take when defending against underage DUI charges in the state.

Know the Legal Framework

In West Virginia, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. This "zero-tolerance" policy aims to deter underage drinking and driving. If an individual is found to have a BAC at or above this limit, they can face serious legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, community service, and even imprisonment.

Seek Legal Representation

When facing underage DUI charges, it is crucial to consult an experienced DUI defense attorney in West Virginia. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case.

Analyze the Traffic Stop and Arrest

One of the first steps in mounting a defense against underage DUI charges is to assess the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop and arrest. Your attorney will scrutinize whether the police had probable cause to stop your vehicle and whether your rights were violated during the process. Any irregularities or misconduct could strengthen your defense.

Challenge Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are commonly used by law enforcement officers to assess a driver's impairment level. However, FSTs are subjective and can be affected by various factors, such as nervousness or physical conditions unrelated to alcohol consumption. A skilled attorney can question the reliability and accuracy of these tests to challenge their validity in court.

Question Breathalyzer Results

Breathalyzer devices measure a person's BAC based on a breath sample. However, these devices are fallible and can produce inaccurate readings for various reasons, including improper calibration or usage by law enforcement. Your attorney may investigate the maintenance records and accuracy of the breathalyzer used in your case to challenge its results.

Explore Diversion Programs

West Virginia offers diversion programs for first-time DUI offenders, including those charged with underage DUI. These programs focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment and can lead to reduced charges or dismissal of the case upon successful completion. Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to explore the possibility of entering such a program.

Gather Witnesses and Evidence

Collecting evidence and identifying witnesses can be crucial in building a strong defense. Surveillance footage, eyewitness testimony, or any other evidence that supports your innocence or raises doubts about the prosecution's case can significantly impact the outcome of your trial.

Negotiate with the Prosecution

In some cases, negotiation with the prosecution may be an effective strategy to secure a plea deal or reduced charges. A skilled attorney can assess the strength of the prosecution's case and negotiate on your behalf to obtain a favorable outcome.


Facing underage DUI charges in West Virginia can be a daunting experience, but with the right legal representation and a comprehensive defense strategy, it is possible to mitigate the consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, it is crucial to act promptly and consult an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and explore all possible defenses. Remember, every case is unique, and a tailored defense approach can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges, contact our experienced attorney at The Wagner Law Firm.