When you’re under 21, strict penalties apply if you’ve had the slightest amount of alcohol and decide to get behind the wheel.

Zero Tolerance
North Carolina has a zero tolerance rule for minors when it comes to driving after consuming alcohol. In fact, underage drivers can get a criminal charge as a minor just for smelling like they have alcohol on them.

If you’re under 21, any alcohol in your system is grounds for being charged with Driving After Consuming Alcohol Under the Age of 21.  Additionally, you could also be charged and convicted of DWI/DUI if you were impaired.  For teenagers, impaired driving laws are more harsh, come with higher fines and have longer license suspension periods. Plus, many colleges and universities may add punishments that can impact a student’s educational standing and future career options.

If you are under 21, it is illegal to:


Drive while consuming alcohol

Drive while any amount of alcohol is in your system – that includes the smallest trace amount

Drive while drugs previously consumed  are in your system, unless lawfully prescribed to you and taken as directed

It is important to distinguish between the charge of Driving After Consuming Under the Age of 21 and DWI/DUI.  If you are under 21, and you consume any alcohol, you may be charged with Driving After Consuming.  You do not have to be impaired to receive this charge.  However, if you are impaired (either appreciably impaired or you blow a 0.08 or more) you could be charged and convicted of both Driving After Consuming and  DWI/DUI.

Piling on Other Charges
An under-aged person charged with driving while impaired is also likely to pick up additional charges that relate to alcohol possession. If the driver is transporting other minors who may have also been drinking or using drugs, additional charges could include:

Distributing alcohol to other minors

A minor in possession

Soliciting alcohol

Child endangerment law violations

Possession of false identification

Moving and vehicle maintenance violations

Talk to an Attorney
An experienced attorney who is familiar with North Carolina’s changing DWI law can be an important resource. A DWI conviction for someone under 21 carries immediate punishments – some of which can be lasting.

Drivers under 21 who have any detectable alcohol or drug concentration lose their license on the spot – and it may be revoked for even longer.

If you refuse to submit to a Intoxilyzer test, you may automatically lose your license for one year.

Insurance companies can drop you from a policy or dramatically increase your premiums for three years.

In addition, penalties for drivers over 21 may also apply to minors if convicted of a DWI.

An effective defense strategy is often critical to the minor’s future. Contact our team today to discuss your or your child’s situation. 

Contact us today for a free consultation