It may seem like no big deal to go to a house party, have a few beers and go home, especially when you are in college or in the workforce. But, if you are under 21, the consequences of drunk driving are even more serious, and the repercussions will not end with a misdemeanor and a slap on the wrist.
The bar for intoxication is lower than you may think
Over 8 million Americans drink underage every year, an untenable number will get behind the car. But, it does not take much police to charge you with drunk driving if you are under 21; a blood alcohol content of just 0.02 can mean you face charges.
In fact, depending on your weight, height, age and other factors, it can take as little as one drink for you to meet this 0.02 BAC threshold.
What is at stake
The legal consequences of underage drunk driving are fairly clear, you can lose your license for years, owe hundreds of dollars in fines and even face community service or jail time. But, for many college-age people, the real issue is what lawyers call “collateral consequences.” These are the challenges you may face in addition to the court’s punishments. For instance, underage DUIs can mean:
- Job loss because you can no longer drive to and from work
- Lost scholarships and other academic support
- Ineligibility for housing aid and other services
There are also social consequences. This is more than just a story that follows you for a few years; underage DUIs and the subsequent penalties can come to define who you are in the eyes of your family and friends.
The best thing to do is not drink and drive, but if you are already stopped for a suspected DUI, ask for an attorney. This may be the fight for your future.