Driving After Consuming Alcohol Under the Age of 21 in North Carolina (Underage DWI/Baby DWI)

In North Carolina, it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 years old to drive a motor vehicle (a car) on a public street, highway or vehicular area (public parking lot or deck) after consuming any amount of alcohol or other controlled substance such as marijuana.  Depending on the facts of the case, you can also be charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) as well.  If convicted of underage DWI, the punishments can be very similar to a DWI conviction and may affect your driver’s license and future job prospects.  Wake County DWI defense attorney Wiley Nickel has ample experience handling these criminal charges and representing clients accused of underage driving after consuming in Wake County courts.

North Carolina Implied Consent Laws for DWI

If you are stopped by the police for drinking and driving under the age of 21, you are subject to North Carolina’s Implied-Consent Law.  Under this law any person who drives a vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area gives consent to a chemical analysis.  Any law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that the person stopped has committed an implied-consent offense may obtain a chemical analysis of that person.  In addition, you can refuse any test, but your driver’s license may be revoked for one year and could be revoked for a longer period of time under certain circumstances.  An officer can compel you to be tested after obtaining a valid search warrant for blood or urine.

An underage driver can be tested on site for drinking and driving in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina must prove that the driver has consumed alcohol or a controlled substance in order to obtain a conviction for an underage drinking and driving offense.  An odor of alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver is insufficient evidence standing alone to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that alcohol was in the driver’s body at the time of the driving.   An alcohol screening test (breathalyzer, pbt or intoxilyzer breath test) can be administered to a driver suspected of driving after consuming under the age of 21 and the results of the screening test may be used by a law enforcement officer or a court in determining if alcohol was present in the driver’s body.

Punishment, Driver’s License Implications & Insurance Points:

The offense of driving after consuming under the age of 21 is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, carrying up to 60 days in jail.  As stated above, this charge is not a lesser included offense of driving while impaired (DWI) and a driver can be charged with both separate offenses.

In addition, if a driver is convicted of this offense, their driver’s license may be revoked for up to 1 year.  Under certain circumstances, if convicted, you can apply for a limited driving privilege during that year suspension so long as you meet the following requirements;

-          The driver was 18, 19, or 20 years old on the date of the offense; and

-          The driver has not previously been convicted of driving after consuming under 21.

Underage DWI could lead to the loss of your driver’s license.

Lastly, a conviction of driving under the age of 21 after consuming alcohol or drugs can carry serious implications on automobile insurance rates.  Under certain circumstances, a driver convicted of this offense may be eligible for a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) avoiding insurance points and a criminal conviction.  For many a PJC would mean that they get to keep driving as well.

Raleigh DWI Attorney Wiley Nickel can help

If you are charged with DWI or underage DWI in Wake County contact The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel for a free consultation.  Our office is located in Cary and we can be reached at 919-585-1486.


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.