North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage DWI charges. If you are under the legal drinking age of 21, you can be convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) with any amount of alcohol in your system. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test is not a solution. You can still be convicted based on other evidence and could lose your driver’s license for an entire year.
Contact an Underage DWI Attorney in North Carolina
The underage DWI attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith have represented many adults under 21 in North Carolina who are facing criminal charges. Our attorneys understand that young people make mistakes. Sometimes they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our goal is to work with you to minimize the consequences of hurting your future, and we will provide you with an aggressive defense against underage DWI charges. Contact us today to learn more.
North Carolina Has a Zero Tolerance Underage DWI Law
North Carolina has a strict, zero-tolerance law regarding drinking and driving while underage. Even if it is your first conviction, if you are found to be drinking while driving with any discernible amount of alcohol in your system, you face serious penalties. For adults aged 21 and older, the legal alcohol limit is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
For drivers under 21, the legal alcohol limit is .01 percent. Anytime an alcohol screening test reads above 0.00 during a routine traffic stop, this is sufficient evidence to convict an underage driver of a DWI. However, the law enforcement officer doesn’t need to prove that the driver had a BAC above 0.00 percent. Officers can also use other evidence to arrest the suspect. For example, if the driver refuses to take an alcohol screening test, the defendant can be convicted of underage DWI. As a result, underage drivers can be arrested if a police officer nearly smelled alcohol on their breath or they exhibit some other type of behavior consistent with alcohol intoxication, such as slurred speech.
Additionally, refusal to submit to a chemical analysis results in an automatic 12 months driver’s license suspension. When a person under age 19 consumes alcohol, doing so is a class 1 misdemeanor on its own. If the offender is 19 or 20, he or she can face a class 3 misdemeanor for consuming alcohol.
The amount of alcohol a person has consumed will directly impact how they are charged. If the defendant is under 21, it’s possible that he or she could be charged with a provisional DWI, which is a less serious misdemeanor charge. If a person is convicted of a provisional DWI, he or she could retain limited driving privileges.
Being charged with a provisional DWI is the best outcome. However, the type of charges you’ll face depends on the police officer making the arrest and the prosecutor responsible for bringing charges against you. You could potentially be charged with a DWI if your BAC is above .08 percent and you’re under 21. A regular DWI charge carries higher penalties.
The arresting law enforcement officer will take other circumstances into account when they decide how to charge you. For example, if you are involved in an accident and another person was injured or killed, you may face more severe charges. Additionally, if there were other minors or younger children involved, you may be charged with a DWI instead of a provisional DWI.
Underage DWI Penalties
Those convicted of underage DWI face jail time, the loss of your driver’s license for 30 days up to a year, and the requirement to complete community service. Those convicted may have to complete a substance abuse program and pay high court fees. Insurance companies take underage DWI convictions seriously. Once you’re convicted, you should expect that your car insurance premiums will increase significantly. You also have to tay that you’ve been convicted of an underage DWI when you apply for college or student loans.
If you or your child have been arrested for an underage DWI, it’s important that you discuss your case with an experienced DWI attorney as quickly as possible. Taking quick action could mean the difference between a criminal record impacting your future and a much less severe penalty. When you work with Greene Crow & Smith, we will immediately begin learning more about the facts of your case. One of our skilled DWI attorneys will investigate all the facts. When necessary, we will work with experts to discover what happened before the arrest occurred.
Every DWI case is different and every legal strategy will be unique. In some cases, a defendant’s legal defense will be built around factors such as whether the law enforcement officer violated his or her constitutional rights. For example, if the police officer did not have probable cause to stop the defendant in the first place, the charges could be dismissed due to a constitutional violation.
In other cases, there may have been an administrative error. For example, using a breathalyzer machine accurately is a complicated process and the law enforcement officer administering the test needs to have training on how to properly test suspects. If the officer made an error when conducting the test, or the test results are faulty in some other way, the defendant can request that the court dismiss the charges against him or her. When you work with Greene Crow & Smith, you can rest assured that we will carefully investigate your case to determine the best legal defense possible.
Discuss Your Case With a New Bern Underage DWI Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing a charge for underage DWI, it’s important that you understand the charges you’re facing and the penalties involved. The underage DWI attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith welcome the opportunity to help you understand the charges you’re facing and provide you with an excellent legal defense. We will guide you through the legal process to make informed decisions about your future. Contact Greene Crow & Smith today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our underage DWI attorneys.