Underage Drinking and Driving

Facing DWI charges is a difficult time for every person. This is especially true for persons under the age of 21. An underage drinking and driving offense raises unique issues and potentially more significant collateral consequences.

To begin with, any person, regardless of age, is subject to the .08 threshold of the DWI law in adult court. Meaning, a driver that is 16 or 17 will be charged in adult court if they violate the .08 DWI law and subjected to the same penalties and consequences as if they were an adult.

Zero Tolerance Law –

For underage drivers, Minnesota has adopted a zero tolerance policy – i.e. “not a drop”. This means it is misdemeanor offense for anyone under the age of 21 to be driving after consuming any alcohol. While “not a drop” is the policy/law, typically the alcohol concentration test needs to be above .02 for the person to be charged with underage drinking and driving. But, of course, this isn’t always the case. Because it is a misdemeanor offense, defendants can face up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, plus probation, which will likely include an alcohol education program.

Collateral Consequences –

If the defendant is convicted of underage drinking and driving, their license is revoked for a period of 30 days on a first-time offense and 180-days on a second-time offense. The conviction may also delay getting an instructional permit and/or a new license until the driver reaches the age of 18. If the defendant actually tested above the legal limit, though, then the revocation period is for 180 days.

Perhaps the most serious collateral consequence stemming from an underage drinking and driving charge is the impact the conviction record may have on the young person’s efforts to get into college, get employment, and professional licenses even. This type of record will be viewed as a red flag and can have long-lasting negative consequences on such a young individual.

With so much at stake – a misdemeanor charge and the possibility of a criminal conviction/record – it is imperative to hire an underage drinking and driving attorney to counsel you and fight for you. North Star Criminal Defense is experienced in handling these matters and knows the big picture is critical to a successful defense. Contact us immediately.