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What are the consequences of underage driving while intoxicated?

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, nearly 40 teens between 16 and 19 years of age suffered fatal injuries on our state's roads in 2009 alone. Further, 24 of these fatal crashes involved alcohol. As part of the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program, the DOT has provided information about the consequences for underage drivers who drive while intoxicated. Although the law protects children of all ages, there are still very serious penalties associated with underage DUIs.

People under the age of 21 convicted of drinking and driving can receive these penalties:

-- One-year loss of driver's license

-- A Class 2 misdemeanor punishment

-- Community service sentence with jail time or a $250 fee

-- Pay mandatory court costs of $190

-- Pay up to $1,000 in fines

-- Increased insurance premiums of up to 400 percent

Following a conviction, 18, 19 or 20-year-olds can acquire limited driving privileges -- only if they have no prior convictions -- for a $100 fee.

Underage drivers stopped by the police and found with any detectable concentration of alcohol can receive these penalties, even if the amount of alcohol falls below established legal limits:

-- On-the-spot loss of driver's license for 30 days

-- Must pay a $100 fee to have license returned

-- Can be convicted for any alcohol reading above 0.00

-- Screening results are admissible in court

-- Alcohol odor combined with refusing an alcohol test could lead to a conviction

-- Refusing a chemical analysis means an automatic one-year revocation of driver's license

-- Increased insurance premiums of up to 400 percent

Unfortunately, underage drivers make mistakes that can result in misdemeanor or felony DUI charges. If this happens, the advice of an experienced attorney as early as possible in order may help to avoid the harshest penalties of a DUI/DWI conviction.

Source: NCDOT.gov, "Underage Drinking: Adult Consequences" Aug. 11, 2014

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