Tennessee has a zero tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving. If you or your teenaged child have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the consequences can be serious, even for first-time offenses. Nashville DUI lawyer Bernie McEvoy has helped many young drivers keep their criminal records clear of drunk driving convictions. He can provide honest advice and assist you in defending against an underage DUI or other criminal charge in Davidson and Williamson Counties.Tennessee Underage Driving While Impaired
In Tennessee, any person may be charged with a DUI for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For drivers who are not legally allowed to drink, however, a separate Tennessee law may apply. The offense of Underage Driving While Impaired pertains to individuals under 21 years old. The law prohibits drivers under 21 years of age from operating or having physical control of a motor vehicle if they are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, drugs, or any combination of those substances. A person may be convicted of Underage Driving While Impaired even if they were driving under the influence of a lawfully prescribed prescription drug.
Most Tennessee DUI offenses, including Underage Driving While Impaired, include a threshold level for a “per se” violation based on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Blood alcohol concentration is determined by a chemical test of a person’s blood, breath, or urine. For most adults, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more. Drivers under the legal drinking age, however, are subject to a much lower threshold.
In Tennessee, the legislature has enacted a zero tolerance policy for underage drivers, which prohibits individuals under the age of 21 from driving with even a small amount of alcohol in their systems. Specifically, Tennessee law provides that it is illegal for a person under 21 years of age to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent or more. If the results of a breathalyzer or other test indicate a BAC level of .02 or higher, therefore, an underage driver may be charged with Underage Driving While Impaired.Underage DUI Penalties
For individuals under 18 years old, Underage Driving While Impaired is a delinquent act. The matter is usually adjudicated in Juvenile Court. A violation is punishable by a one-year driver license suspension, a fine of two hundred fifty dollars, and in some cases, the court may order public service work.
For drivers who are at least 18 years old, but under 21 years old, Underage Driving While Impaired is typically a Class A misdemeanor and a conviction may appear on your criminal record. The penalties are generally the same. Under the current law, a restricted driver license is not available for Underage Driving While Impaired. Therefore, if your license is suspended for an underage DUI, you will not be able to drive to work, school, or anywhere else until the suspension period is over.
In addition, other alcohol-related charges may arise from an underage DUI. In Tennessee, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, possess, transport, or consume any alcoholic beverage, wine, or beer. Having alcohol in the car, even unopened containers, may result in charges that carry additional penalties for underage drivers. Repeat DUI offenses can carry even more severe consequences.
How an underage DUI charge is resolved depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Defenses to a DUI charge may be the lack of probable cause for arrest, an improperly calibrated breathalyzer, violation of constitutional protections, as well as other defenses, all of which are fact-specific determinations. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney for an individualized analysis.Hire a Dedicated Underage DUI Lawyer in the Nashville Area
If you or your child have been charged with an underage DUI or other criminal offense, you can seek legal advice about how to protect your future from seasoned attorney. Bernie McEvoy is a skilled defense lawyer with the experience to preserve your rights as well as guide you through the proceedings in an Underage Driving While Impaired or other criminal case. He can assist individuals from Nashville, Franklin, and many other locations in Davidson and Williamson Counties. Request a free consultation by calling our daytime phone number at (615) 255-9595 or (615) 804-8779 after business hours, or contact us online.