How does North Carolina DWI law work for underage drivers

If you are under the age of 21, North Carolina law prohibits you from driving after consuming any alcohol or if you have any level of alcohol or other controlled substance in your system. This is a zero-tolerance statute.

If you know a juvenile cited for driving after drinking or using drugs, you should know the possible consequences.

Criminal sanctions

Under North Carolina law, the crime of underage DWI is a misdemeanor. A prosecutor can charge a juvenile with both regular DWI and underage DWI simultaneously. You can get jail time up to sixty for a conviction of underage DWI. The court can also order you to pay a fine of up to $1,000. The judge in the case will review all of the circumstances before deciding on the penalty and sentencing.

Civil penalties

In addition to a possible criminal conviction, you may face administrative sanctions for an underage DWI from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). You can expect to have your driving privileges suspended for at least 30 days after a citation for underage DWI. The NCDOT can extend this period to a year if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test when an officer asks you to do so. If you get convicted during your criminal trial, you will lose your license for at least one year following the judge’s ruling.

North Carolina is very strict on persons who drive while intoxicated. The law allows no discretion to determine intoxication if an underage driver operates a vehicle with alcohol or drugs in their system.