Drinking and Driving in Charleston: Punishment as a Minor

Drinking and driving is a severe offense in Charleston and attracts many consequences. Notably, it’s just as severe when an underage driver is driving under the influence of alcohol. Underage drinking and driving charges can hurt the records of any minor in Charleston. Apart from getting you excluded from several school activities and sports, it can also ruin your college career.

Even with the best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston on your side, there are several punishments you can face for drinking and driving as a minor. This article explores all the consequences of underage drinking in Charleston. In addition, it explains how a criminal defense attorney in Charleston, SC, can help you.

So on that note, let’s dive right in.

How Frequent Is Underage Drinking and Driving?

Although it is illegal for minors to drink and drive across the country, many continue to indulge in this act. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that young people between 12 and 20 years make up 4% of the country’s total alcohol consumption. Although they don’t drink as often as adults, minors tend to drink more when they do.

Additionally, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, they’re not just drinking. If they can drive, they’re more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than adults. Reports show that 29% of drivers aged 15-20 killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2022 had been drinking.

The South Carolina Zero Tolerance Policy for Underage Drinking and Driving

South Carolina has a zero-tolerance law for drivers under 21. Traditionally, DUI requires a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 percent or higher. However, the BAC requirement is lower for anyone under 21 as they need a BAC of .02 or higher to break the DUI laws. Therefore, most individuals under 21 years would exceed the legal limit after one drink.

Driving with a .02 BAC can get you an underage DUI charge. However, due to the Zero Tolerance law, there would be no prosecution for criminal DUI, and your license would be suspended immediately.

You have the right to an administrative hearing for the reinstatement of your driver’s license. Furthermore, you can have this hearing while your DUI case is pending. We have the best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston who can help you regain your driving privileges.

What Are the Consequences for Underage Drinking and Driving in Charleston, SC

As a minor, the law forbids the possession, consumption or purchase of alcohol in Charleston. The legal punishments for underage drinking under South Carolina laws include:

  • A fine of $100 or more
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • The compulsory completion of an alcohol prevention or intervention program

This intervention program can cost up to $150. In addition, if this isn’t your first conviction as a minor, you’ll likely face longer jail sentences and higher fines.

A teen boy in handcuffs for underage DUI

Underage DUI and Fraudulent Identification

There are more penalties for underage drinking and driving, especially if you fraudulently acquired the alcohol. For example, most minors use fake identification to purchase alcohol. Thus, the person responsible for creating or altering the fake ID could face fines of up to $2,500 upon conviction. Additionally, they’re liable to spend six months or more in prison.

Punishment for using the fraudulent identification card is less severe, with 30 days imprisonment and fines of up to $100. Most minors believe that using other forms of identification other than a driver’s license protects them from prosecution. However, this is only a misconception because if found guilty of creating or altering a special identification card to obtain alcohol, you can face fines of up to $200 and 30 days in jail.

Possible Charges Following an Underage DUI Arrest

The local district attorney (DA) can file multiple charges against you for drinking and driving as a minor. Some of them include the following:

  • Attempt to purchase alcohol as a minor
  • Attempt to use a fake identity card
  • Being present in a vehicle where alcohol is present
  • Driving while under the influence as a minor

Suppose you get a license suspension for underage drinking and diving. Then, the best DUI defense lawyer in Charleston can help you obtain a temporary driver’s license that will allow you to drive during the appeal. Note that you only have thirty days from your license suspension to appeal.

How Does Underage DUI Affect Record?

When you’re young, and below the legal drinking age, it’s easy to get carried away. When minors drink, they believe there’s little that could go wrong. Sadly, they’re wrong. Beyond the legal ramifications of underage DUI, the social and other consequences can also be far-reaching.

Firstly, a DUI conviction as a minor will get you a criminal record. This means every time you try to apply for a scholarship, job, internship, volunteering program, or any other opportunity, this conviction may come up. Consequently, you risk losing such offers.

Underage DUI Can Hurt Your Education

Furthermore, a DUI conviction can limit the number of schools you are eligible to attend and the social activities you can participate in. Even the college of your dreams may not accept you. If you are already in school and on a scholarship, you may lose your educational funding. In addition to the criminal charges that come with the conviction, there will also be increased penalties for subsequent charges.

Most employers refuse to hire drivers with a DUI on their record, so it can get in the way of getting part-time jobs as you study. Moreover, the consequences of drinking and driving as a minor can cause many inconveniences for you. This ranges from social to legal problems, loss of opportunities, and scheduling inconveniences.

Talk to the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Everyone makes mistakes, but they should not have to suffer forever for such mistakes. However, the penalties for making the mistake of drinking and driving as a minor are quite heavy. Therefore, it is best to fight an underage DUI conviction and prevent conviction. Luckily for you, our lawyers view underage DUI cases as a fight for the child’s future.

So, whether this is your first DUI charge or you are trying to prevent a subsequent conviction, we can provide legal counsel and assistance. We have extensive experience representing people accused of DUI. Therefore, we know all the possible defenses for getting you off the DUI charge.

We’ll investigate whether the police followed the right protocols and build a solid case to prevent a DUI conviction for you. Contact the best criminal defense attorney Charleston has today, and let us start working on your case.