Underage drinking and driving is punished quite severely in the state of Tennessee. In fact, anyone under the age of 21 who is caught driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of over 0.02% will face two criminal charges—one for driving while impaired and one for underage drinking.
Tennessee state law says that drivers aged at least 16 but younger than 21 will be charged with driving while impaired, although drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 may be charged either with driving while impaired or the adult offense of driving under the influence, depending on the details of the case. The prosecutor may amend an Underage DWI charge to a DUI charge if he or she determines that it is appropriate.
Tennessee legislators have enacted strict punishments for minors convicted of DWI. These punishments include forfeiture of the vehicle, suspension of the driver’s license, mandatory DUI/drug and alcohol abuse education, community service, probation and fines.
A conviction of underage DWI can have long-reaching effects on a young person’s future. While the stiff penalties are meant to deter youth from making reckless decisions, the truth is that the stigma of a DWI conviction can compromise a young person’s higher educational opportunities, making it difficult to find acceptance into specialized programs or fields such as law, medicine or education. Even if accepted, scholarships or financial aid opportunities may suffer as a result of a DWI conviction on an applicant’s record.
Potential job opportunities may be limited for those with an underage DWI conviction. Applicants with criminal records are generally required to disclose any convictions in pre-employment paperwork or interviews—failure to do so can result in termination if the conviction comes to light further down the road. Although a lesser-concluded offense, many young people do not realize that the stigma associated with an Underage DWI is very similar to that of an adult Tennessee DUI.
Participating in underage drinking can lead to early alcohol dependency, poor performance or disinterest in school, a host of health problems, alcohol-related injuries, accidents and even death.
At the Garza Law Firm, we understand the severity of an underage DWI conviction. Our firm is dedicated to handling Tennessee DUI cases, including underage DWI. If you or someone you love is facing a DUI or DWI charge in the state of Tennessee, call the Garza Law Firm today.
Call (888) 680-7554 for a free, no-risk consultation to discuss the details of your Tennessee DUI case.