Sometimes the years between high school and reaching the legal drinking age can be frustrating. By the time you reach 18, you are old enough to vote in national elections. You may get a tattoo, get married and even serve in the military. On the other hand, until you reach age 21, you may not purchase or possess alcohol. The penalties for a conviction for these offenses can cost you, including hundreds in fines and court-ordered alcohol awareness classes.
However, drinking and driving under the age of 21 carries the potential for even greater harm. You may remember how much your driver education teacher emphasized the dangers of drunk driving, but perhaps you did not take the warnings seriously. If you are facing charges for underage drinking and driving, you have every reason to be concerned about your future.
Serious, long-term consequences
Someone over the age of 21 may have a beer or two and still be under the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol concentration for drivers. For drivers under age 21, however, the rules are much stricter. Any detectable trace of alcohol in your blood can result in criminal charges. If a court finds you guilty, you may face any of the following penalties:
- A fine that may reach $500
- The suspension of your driver’s license for as long as 60 days
- Community service for up to 40 hours
- Mandatory classes for alcohol awareness
- Additional fees and penalties as the court sees fit
You should not underestimate the long-term ramifications of an underage drunk driving conviction. A conviction for drunk driving is not like a traffic ticket that may disappear from your record after time passes. A drunk driving conviction may remain on your record indefinitely. This may make it difficult for you to gain acceptance into a college, obtain certain scholarships or pursue some courses of study that may include professional certification.
A second offense drunk driving conviction increases the severity of those penalties, including fines up to $2,000 and the possibility of spending weeks or months behind bars. If you are facing drunk driving charges and you are under age 21, you have a great deal at stake. You would be wise to obtain solid and experienced legal representation for the best possible chances of minimizing the negative outcome of your situation.