It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or drink alcohol in the United States. It follows, then, that it is also illegal for minors to drink and drive. The drunk driving laws for minors are even more stringent than those for adult drivers. Most drivers over the age of 21 are subjected to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) standard, meaning that a driver may be charged with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated if he or she tests for a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Drivers under the age of 21, however, may be charged with drunk driving for a BAC as low as 0.02%, or essentially one drink or less.
Under Age DWI
Underage drunk driving is taken very seriously in the United States, and Tennessee is no exception. Underage DWI means that anyone under the age of 21 caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their system may be charged with DUI or DWI. For even a first offense, the penalties for a juvenile drunk driving conviction can be severe. These include:
- Community service hours
- One year driver license suspension
Minors who have been charged with drunk driving and illegal possession or consumption of alcohol will likely face trial, especially if they are over 18 years old. In these cases, it is important for minors to seek an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent them during their trials.
In addition to these court-ordered penalties, the minor will also have his or her driver’s license suspended for 1 year for a first offense. If you are under the age of 21 or have a child who is underage and who has been arrested for drunk driving, consider consulting with a Tennessee underage DWI defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options.