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Law enforcement agencies across Missouri have reportedly launched a campaign to crackdown on underage drunk driving that will last until May 12. Early May is a busy time for graduation parties and school proms, and police say they traditionally notice a sharp increase in the number of drunk-driving incidents involving teenagers during this period.

Officials say that a number of factors contribute to an increase in underage DWI. High-school students often feel that graduation marks the beginning of adulthood, and their behavior sometimes reflects their perceived new status. The mild spring weather might also be a reason for the surge in drunk driving among young people, officials suggest.

Jefferson City police said that they plan on assigning additional officers to look out for young drivers who may be under the influence. Drivers under the age of 21 may face stiff penalties if authorities detect even trace amounts of alcohol in their system. While the legal limit for drivers 21 and older is .08 percent, with regard to blood alcohol content, the legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 is .02 percent. Underage drivers convicted of DWI may be penalized with a fine as well as having their driver's license suspended.

Furthermore, a DWI conviction may impact students' college applications or their chances of finding a job. The best option for underage drivers accused of DWI is to have the charges reduced or dismissed. Toward this end, they would benefit from the legal representation of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may question the credibility of accident reports, police statements or blood alcohol test results. Or, the attorney might invoke mitigating factors, such as prior good behavior, while negotiating with prosecutors in a plea bargain.

Source: KQFX, "Jefferson City Police cracking down on underage drunken driving", Madison Burke, May 01, 2014

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