Teenage Drivers and DUIs
Dan Stratford: One of the things the article discusses is that teenage drivers are the highest risk factor for being involved in a fatal accident. If a teenager is at fault for an accident, what is the first thing they should do?
Dan Noll: Well, the first thing they should do is stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense and it could be a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding it. When the police officers are there, again this is not legal advice. The best thing to do is stay at the scene, contact an attorney and discuss it on a fact by fact basis. But there is nothing that requires a person to make a statement to admit fault.
There is no legal authority to compel somebody to incriminate themselves. Often times people because they are good hearted people and want to tell the truth will say, “Yes it was my fault. I didn’t see the red light” or whatever the case may be. But being a good person and protecting your rights are two separate things at times and sometimes just keeping your mouth shut is the best thing that you can do.
Dan Stratford: What additional considerations might need to be taken when you handle someone accused of underage drinking and driving?
Dan Noll: Well again when we take a DUI case, we look at a number of factors. Whether there was probable cause to stop the vehicle or interact with the person. If the person did complete field sobriety test, whether those were administered properly and how the person performed. If there was a blood alcohol sample given, what number was? What time it was given? The overall demeanor of the person, how did they do, and we look at that on all cases.
Then with somebody under 21, we are looking at what their BAC was, their demeanor and then there are special considerations given their age. Generally they are charged with a number of other offenses because being under 21 and drinking violates the law in and of itself. There is a whole gamut of things to look at and we’ve had a large degree of success representing what I would call youthful or younger offenders of DUI.