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Underage DUI: What you - and your child - need to know

For drivers of legal drinking age - 21 or older - "drunk driving" in Tennessee means driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. When the driver is underage, however, that threshold drops significantly, to just .02.

This means that, in many instances, a single drink before getting behind the wheel could result in DUI charges, and the myriad penalties and consequences that come along with it.

We've discussed in previous posts the many facets of Tennessee DUI convictions.

There are significant financial, legal and social costs, including jail time, license suspension, fines and negative impacts on employment.

These consequences make things significantly more difficult for an adult. They can be devastating for a youth, however, and could literally be life-changing. A criminal history could mean lost student loans, denied college admission, or unrealized dreams for someone who made a youthful mistake.

Underage drinking and driving is governed primarily by Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-415. This statute declares that no one under the age of 21 can drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances. For someone underage, this means a BAC of just .02.

The penalties and consequences of underage drinking and driving vary depending on the driver's age at the time of the offense.

  • Drivers under18 will face a delinquency charge, a fine, a year's license suspension and community service.
  • Drivers 18 but not yet 21 will face a Class A misdemeanor charge, a fine, a year's license suspension and community service.

Either way, underage DUI is a serious offense in Tennessee. If your child has been charged, he or she needs a strong defense to prevent life-altering effects. Reach out to an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area as soon as possible following an arrest.

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