Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Asheville and the surrounding North Carolina areas is a serious matter regardless of your age. However, you may not be aware that driving while intoxicated under the legal age limit has stricter rules applied to you. If you or a loved one is under the age of 21, you should make yourself aware of the consequences of driving after you’ve consumed alcohol or controlled substances.
For minors operating a motor vehicle, if an officer has pulled you over and your breath registers any quantity of alcohol, then you may be subjected to a breathalyzer. This law is because North Carolina’s license comes with implied consent rules. Implied consent rules mean that by having an NC driver’s license, you automatically consent to chemical tests while driving.
If you’re under 21 years of age, and you refuse to perform a breathalyzer test or refuse to provide a blood sample at the station, you will have your license automatically revoked. Be aware that if your breath smells like alcohol, this alone does not count as evidence towards your underage DUI, but if you reject the officer’s order to perform a chemical test, then this can be used against you at court.
The state of North Carolina maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving.
If you are convicted of a DUI, but with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of less than 0.08 percent, and were between the ages of 18-20 during the charge, then you may qualify for limited driving privileges. However, if your BAC was at or above 0.08 percent, then you will be convicted of a standard DUI, and not be able to obtain any driving privileges.
Many of the consequences of an underage DUI are the same as those who are above the age of 21. Going along with these same guidelines, the methods of contesting an underage DUI are the same as a standard one. During the arrest, the officer must have made the stop for a justified reason along with probable cause to examine you as the driver.
A law distinct to North Carolina, as a minor charged with a DUI under 0.08 percent BAC, can ask for a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC). A PJC is used mainly for traffic violations to save yourself from points being applied to your license. While it may help with points, it does not absolve you of the crime. In fact, if you ask for a PJC, and if the judge approves, you are entering a guilty plea. This request may save your license, but keep in mind that there are some caveats to a PJC.
When requesting a PJC, know that:
- You are pleading guilty, and the judge may not extend you a PJC
- It can’t be applied to standard DUI or reckless driving
- You can only ask for two every five years
- It will show on background checks, which can affect insurance plans
What Happens if You have a Minor in the Car when being Charged with a DUI?
Another issue you should consider before drinking and driving is if you have a minor in the car with you.
If you’re charged with a DUI in Asheville and are subsequently convicted, the sentence you will be subjected to will be along a scale of Grossly Aggravating, Aggravating, and Mitigating factors. These different factors can drastically alter the severity of your sentence, with Mitigating factors having the least impact and Grossly Aggravating having the most.
If the circumstances of your convictions included a Grossly Aggravating factor, then the sentence will automatically be elevated to a minimum of Level 2. Level 2 penalties come with a mandatory 7-day minimum jail sentence. If your DUI charge has one Grossly Aggravating factor and during the time of the arrest and you had a minor in the car, then your penalty automatically climbs to Level 1. Be aware that this elevation in penality isn’t limited to only minors, but can include someone physically unable to leave the vehicle under their own power or someone who has an intellectual disability)
A Level 1 penalty includes a minimum of 30-days in jail, with fines reaching as high as $4,000, and a potential of 2 years prison time.
Asheville and the state as a whole take DUI charges extremely seriously. To make sure that you or your loved ones receive the best representation, you should contact an experienced Asheville DUI law firm. Luckily, the attorneys at the Asheville DUI Guy law firm is here to help. Contact us today to receive a free consultation: 828-759-5556.