Understanding the penalties of underage drinking and driving in North Carolina

While some minors in North Carolina are aware of the consequences that exist when an individual breaks the law, they may not fully understand the details of the laws, potential penalties and how a conviction, even as a minor, could impact their life. Therefore, when a minor is accused of underage drinking, they should not only be aware of the laws against it but the penalties they could face if they are charged with underage DWI.

According to North Carolina state laws, the state has a zero tolerance law. This means that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive after consuming alcohol. If a driver is suspected of underage drinking, which occurs when they have a blood alcohol reading above 0.00, they could face serious consequences.

If any amount of alcohol is detected, the accused driver will immediately lose their driver’s license for 30 days on the spot. In addition, they will have to pay a fee of $100 to get their driver’s license back. If the driver is convicted of underage DWI, they will have a one-year driver’s license suspension, a fine up to $1,000, community service hours, a fee of $250, and, possibly, jail time.

In addition to these penalties, an underage driver could endure addition consequences such as increased insurance premiums. Being charged with underage drinking could, therefore, cost a minor a lot of money and could impact their driving privileges. In addition, they could have a criminal record, further affecting their personal and professional lives. Because the consequences involved could be serious, it is important that drivers understand their defense rights and options. This could help them fight the charges and, perhaps, get them reduced or dismissed entirely.

When drivers in North Carolina are pulled over or arrested for suspected drunk driving, they should seek to initiate a defense that will not only protect their reputation, but also reduce the impact the allegations could have on their driving abilities and even their freedom. Our law firm understands how important driving a vehicle is and how losing this privilege could greatly impact an individual’s life. Furthermore, we understand the other consequences of a DUI could be very harsh and could be scary to confront.

Drivers who are accused of drunk driving should know their legal rights. Our attorneys can help inform them of those rights. We can also discuss how a slight error in making a stop, conducting a field sobriety tests or administering a blood alcohol test could help a driver get the charges against them reduced or dismissed.

Are you or a loved one facing an underage DWI charge?

Many North Carolina like to have a good time every now and then, and that can include drinking alcohol. But drinking and driving is illegal in all U.S. states, and if pulled over by law enforcement for driving while under the influence can carry serious penalties. Still, a onetime mistake brought on by being arrested while under the influence should not mean a lifetime of misery. We all deserve a second chance especially if one is minor or underage.

If your loved one who is underage is charged with driving under the influence, you need a legal team that has the skill and experience to protect and fight for their rights. This becomes especially important when you realize that the potential penalties that are meted out by the justice system can be exceedingly punitive when prosecuting underage driving while intoxicated versus a regular DWI charge. For example, an underage DWI is very likely to be prohibited from gaining limited driving privileges like any normal teenager until after they have reached 18 years of age.

Our defense attorneys have comprehensive and extensive experience in fighting underage DWI charges and will work with you tirelessly to construct a defense strategy that protects you and your child’s interests while ensuring that their rights are protected from an overreaching justice system.

If your child is a first time offender, depending on the specifics of the case our attorneys can work with the state prosecutors to broker an arrangement whereby they will be admitted into a first-time offender program. With good behavior and meeting all the requirements of the program, your child can have all their charges expunged. We will work tirelessly to ensure that if they are eligible that they will be offered such a deal.

Source: North Carolina’s Governor’s Highway Safety Program, “Underage Drinking. Adult Consequences,”