Underage drinking in Tennessee: 3 things to know for prom season

The season for prom and grad parties is not that far away. If you are a parent whose child will be participating in these events, there are many plans to be made. For some families, this may include how to handle potential alcohol use by a minor child.

Here are three useful things to know as you plan for prom and grad-party season.

The threshold for DUI impairment under Tennessee law is much lower for drivers who are under 21 than for drivers who are over 21.

In Tennessee, it is illegal for someone under age 21 to purchase or drink alcohol. Underage drinking may be common, but it certainly isn’t legal.

But that’s not all. For DUI offenses, there is also a lower threshold for what is considered impairment that applies to underage drivers.

For drivers who are under 21, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for a DUI charge is 0.02 percent or above. This is significantly lower than the 0.08 that applies to drivers who are over 21.

In practice, this means your child could be facing a DUI charge even if he or she only had one drink.

An adult who hosts or allows parties where alcohol is served can face criminal penalties.

Tennessee is one of 30 states in which adults who permit or host parties where alcohol is served to minors may be subject to criminal penalties.

Under Tennessee Code Annotated 39-15-404allowing or enabling an underage person to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense.

A driver who is age 18 to 20 faces different consequences for DUI than a driver who is 21 or over.

For an underage adult, ages 18-20, penalties for a DUI conviction can include loss of his or her driver’s license for one year, as well as a $250 fine.

These penalties are not as severe as for those 21 or older. Drivers who are 21 or older can get 48 hours in jail and up to a year of probation, in addition to license suspension and a fine.

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