In North Carolina, criminal charges for DWI while being under the legal age of consumption can have some serious consequences. Drinking and driving under the age of 21 is a big deal and is taken extremely seriously by Judges throughout the State. Whether you or a loved one has been charged with Under 21 DWI it’s important that you seek qualified counsel immediately. The State doesn’t care that your college student got into a bar with a fake ID or that your high school-age son or daughter was stopped shortly after leaving a party. All law enforcement officers need in the State of North Carolina is reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop a person operating a vehicle on suspicion of drunk driving, or in this case, driving after consuming while under the age of 21.
What is Under 21 DWI?
Under the current law, underage DWI can lead to the loss of your license and a criminal record. Here’s an excerpt from North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.3:
§ 20‑138.3. Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Offense. – It is unlawful for a person less than 21 years old to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area while consuming alcohol or at any time while he has remained in his body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed, but a person less than 21 years old does not violate this section if he drives with a controlled substance in his body which was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.
- Subject to Implied‑Consent Law. – An offense under this section is an alcohol‑related offense subject to the implied consent provisions of G.S. 20‑16.2.
- Odor Insufficient. – The odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver is insufficient evidence by itself to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that alcohol was remaining in the driver’s body in violation of this section unless the driver was offered an alcohol screening test or chemical analysis and refused to provide all required samples of breath or blood for analysis.
- Alcohol Screening Test. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alcohol screening test may be administered to a driver suspected of violation of subsection (a) of this section, and the results of an alcohol screening test or the driver’s refusal to submit may be used by a law enforcement officer, a court, or an administrative agency in determining if alcohol was present in the driver’s body. No alcohol screening tests are valid under this section unless the device used is one approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the screening test is conducted in accordance with the applicable regulations of the Department as to its manner and use.
A conviction of Underage DWI is a class 2 misdemeanor, however, the defendant could also be charged with a regular DWI as well since the conviction of the Under 21 DWI charge is NOT a lesser included offense. A loss of one’s driving privileges is a distinct concern with this type of charge. At Law smith, The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, PLLC, we’ll work hard to keep you or your loved one’s driver’s license, or in the alternative, obtain a driving privilege during the period of revocation.
North Carolina DWI Attorney Defending Drivers Under 21
At The Law Offices of J. Scott Smith, PLLC, we know the worries and concerns our clients face with these types of difficult charges. A conviction for underage DWI can be a life to change event; that’s why you can count on our firm’s experience and knowledge in dealing with these issues. Contact us now for peace of mind and a free consultation regarding you or a loved one’s underage DWI charge.