The state of North Carolina refers to itself as a "zero tolerance" state when it comes to underage drinking in driving. The state's Zero Tolerance Law states that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle following the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
Underage drinking and driving laws are particularly strict. Here's what the law says is illegal for any driver under the age of 21:
-- Driving while drinking alcohol.
-- Driving while alcohol is in your system.
-- Driving while drugs are in your system unless the drugs were prescribed lawfully and being used as prescribed.
Under 21-year-old drivers who are pulled over and suspected to have a detectable amount of alcohol in their systems will have serious consequences. Here are the punishments associated with an underage drinking and driving conviction:
-- Loss of driving privileges for 30 days from the moment of the traffic stop with a $100 fee for license reinstatement.
-- Any amount of blood alcohol content above 0.00 percent can result in conviction. Blood alcohol screening tests are admissible as evidence in court.
-- Alcohol odor plus an alcohol screening refusal is enough evidence to result in conviction.
-- Refusing a chemical screening will cause an automatic drivers' license suspension of one year.
-- Those convicted of underage drinking and driving can face an insurance premium hike of as much as 400 percent for a period of three years.
There are other important considerations for people under the age of 21 who are accused of drunk driving. If convicted, other consequences could be court costs of $190, fines up to $1,000, being sentenced to jail or community service and more. That said, just because a driver is accused of underage drinking and driving does not mean that he or she will be convicted of the crime. Indeed, every North Carolina resident accused of underage drunk driving will have the ability to defend him or herself in court.
Source: North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, "Underage Drinking. Adult Consequences.," accessed Dec. 02, 2016