Any driver who is pulled over by a police officer and subsequently asked to exit his or her vehicle and complete a series of field sobriety tests is, with good reason, likely to be terrified. This is especially true in cases involving young and inexperienced drivers.
If convicted, individuals who face drunk driving (DWI/DUI or Driving after consuming being under 21) charges in North Carolina are subject to some of the harshest penalties in the country. The state's DWI laws are particularly unforgiving for those individuals who are under the age of 21.
If convicted of DWI/DUI, the young person under 21 may possibly not get any driving privileges at all for one year or until they turn 21, whichever is longer. Althgouh some judges may sign the privilege, DMV may reject it and note a suspension and unauthorized privilege in the computer.
If charged with Driving after Comsuming being under 21 Years of Age, ANY alcohol in the defendant's system may be sufficient to support a conviction, even if its below the legal limit of .08
Like all states, North Carolina has a zero-tolerance law for underage drinking and driving. This means that a driver who is not age 21 and is found to have any trace of alcohol in his or her system is automatically subject to a 30-day driver's license revocation and, if convicted, a 12-month revocation.
In cases where a driver under the age of 21 refuses to submit to a Breathalyzer or other blood alcohol test, the mere "smell of alcohol on the breath" is sufficient to warrant a DWI arrest and conviction.
Barring additional criminal charges, an underage DWI is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. Individuals convicted of underage DWI face thousands of dollars in fines, fees and penalties and lose their driver's license for 12 months.
For a teen or young adult convicted of drunk driving, he or she may have difficulty obtaining or keeping a job and securing housing. Additionally, an underage DWI could potentially result in the revocation of academic scholarships and even admission to some colleges and universities institutions.
With so much at stake, it's critical that individuals who are facing underage DWI charges secure legal representation. A criminal defense attorney who handles drunk and drugged driving matters will aggressively defend against any and all charges and fight to secure the best possible legal outcome.
Source: North Carolina's Governor's Highway Safety Program, "Underage Drinking. Adult Consequences." March 12, 2015
North Carolina Department of Public Safety, "Information Concerning Alcohol and Driving While Impaired," March 12, 2014