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Driving After Consuming Under 21: A Zero-Tolerance Offense

North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21, making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol or controlled substance in his/her system.  Driving After Consuming Under 21, also called a “baby DWI” or “provisional DWI,” is a serious charge that can result in significant criminal and DMV consequences.

N.C.G.S. § 20-138.3 makes it unlawful for a person less than 21 years of age

(1)    to drive a motor vehicle

(2)    on a highway or public vehicular area

(3)    while the person

(a)    is consuming alcohol,

(b)   has any alcohol remaining in his or her body, or

(c)    has any controlled substance remaining in his or body.

It is important to note that if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit of 0.08 or the officer finds other evidence of impairment, you may also be charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI), which has much harsher criminal and DMV consequences.

Driving After Consuming Under 21 is a Class 2 misdemeanor, meaning a judge could impose a substantial fine, probation, and/or jail time.  Furthermore, a conviction under N.C.G.S. § 20-138.3 results in a mandatory one year driver’s license suspension.  A limited driving privilege may be available during the one year suspension period for drivers who were at least 18 years old at the time of the offense and meet other eligibility requirements.  

In Wake County, some judges offer an opportunity to “earn” a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) following a Driving After Consuming Under 21 conviction by requiring completion of community service hours and/or substance abuse treatment, for example.  If a PJC is granted, then the judge will not impose any fine, probation, or jail time, and no license suspension will result from the conviction.  Therefore, it’s imperative to have an experienced attorney who can help you achieve the most favorable result possible in your case. 

If you have been charged with Driving After Consuming Under 21 or DWI in the Wake County, call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC at 919-373-2288 for a free consultation with our experienced Raleigh DWI lawyers.

Wiley Nickel