What Happens If I'm Under 21 And Charged With DWI?
Information about underage DWI for parents and students in the Wilmington area.
North Carolina criminal defense lawyer Patrick Roberts of Roberts Law Group, PLLC. In Raleigh, Wilmington and Charlotte.
North Carolina is a zero tolerance state for underage DWI. If you are under 21 and consume any alcohol and get behind the wheel you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
WILMINGTON, NC, October 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Twenty one is the magic age in North Carolina. It is the age when you can legally carry, buy and consume alcohol in this state. It is also the age at which a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is considered driving while impaired. For those who haven't yet reached 21, any alcohol in your system - .01-.07 and above - can be grounds for an underage DWI arrest.
North Carolina is a zero tolerance state for underage drinking and driving. If you are under 21 and consume any alcohol and get behind the wheel - whether it was just one beer, one mixed drink or one shot - and you are pulled over while behind the wheel, you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
Driving While Impaired In North Carolina
Many people know think a DWI arrest means a BAC test of .08 or greater. You should now already know that if you are under 21 with any alcohol in your system and were stopped on suspicion of impaired driving, you can be arrested for DWI. This is called a provisional DWI.
You may not know that, regardless of your blood-alcohol level, you can be arrested for DWI if the arresting officer believes you are appreciably impaired. If you are exhibiting signs of being impaired including erratic driving, slurred speech, glassy eyes or other indicator, you may be considered impaired in the eyes of the arresting officer.
Driving while impaired charges are not limited to alcohol-related offenses. If you are impaired due to illegal drugs or prescription drugs, you may be arrested and charged with DWI. If you are suspected of being under the influence of marijuana, bath salts or any other drug, a blood test may be done to determine your level of impairment and you may be charged with a DWI drug offense.
DWI Penalties For A Minor Charged With Drunk Driving
A provisional DWI is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. If you are under 21 and are arrested for DWI because you have a .01 or greater BAC, you may be facing a provisional DWI charge.
However, if you have a BAC of .08 or over, you may face an adult DWI charge and adult DWI penalties. If you are convicted of an under-21 DWI with a .08 or greater BAC:
You won't be able to drive. Your license will automatically be suspended for 30 days after your DWI arrest. If you refused the breath test, the suspension period will be longer. If you are convicted of underage DWI you will lose your license for a year. If you blew .08 or greater, you will not be eligible for limited driving privileges. It will be next to impossible to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL).
You may have trouble getting a job.A DWI on your record can limit your job options now and in the future. If you are in high school or college and are not working or looking for work, the DWI will still continue to follow you for years in the future.
You may have trouble getting into or staying in the college of your choice. Many colleges and universities ask for a disclosure of any prior criminal convictions on the application form; a drunk driving conviction may affect the admission decision. If you are already in college, your school may have reporting requirements that penalize students with suspension for not reporting a criminal conviction to the school, including a DWI.
You will pay a lot of money. A DWI charge is expensive. Attorney's fees aside, there will be court costs, fines, increased insurance rates, substance abuse counseling and treatment and license restoration costs, among other possible expenses.
You will receive a sentence. You may face community service, substance abuse counseling and/or actual jail time.
If you cause an accident that results in property damage, serious personal injury or death, you will face substantial criminal penalties.
Can A DWI Conviction Be Expunged?
A drunk driving conviction - whether an 'adult' DWI or a provisional or 'baby' DWI - will stay on your criminal record until it is expunged. Expungement is the process of sealing a prior criminal record so that it is no longer searchable; essentially it erases any proof that a crime was ever committed and cleans up your criminal record.
If you were over 18 at the time you were arrested for drunk driving, you are not eligible to have a resulting conviction expunged until 15 years have passed and you otherwise maintain a clean record. If it is not expunged, it will stay with you for life.
If you were found not guilty of underage DWI, or if the district attorney decided to dismiss the charges against you AND you have not had another offense already expunged, you may be eligible to have the arrest taken off your record through the expungement process.
A DWI charge is serious. If you are under 21 and are facing drunk driving charges, you should contact a drunk driving defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and develop and effective defense strategy.
This informational article about the underage drunk driving in North Carolina is provided by the attorneys of Roberts Law Group, PLLC, a Wilmington criminal defense law firm dedicated to the rights of those accused of a crime. To learn more about the firm, please visit our family of criminal defense websites. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Google+ to get the latest updates on safety and criminal defense matters in North Carolina.
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