Many people disagree on the logic and effectiveness of prohibiting alcohol to people under 21. A lot of kids think that underage drinking is a rite of passage — no big deal.
The state of Tennessee takes underage alcohol and drug use very seriously and has passed laws meant to keep users from driving under the influence. Tennessee’s Drug Free Youth Act mandates a driver’s license suspensions for people under 18 who are convicted of underage drinking or any sort of controlled substance offense. Underage DUI comes with a one-year license revocation for a first offense.
If you are convicted of underage possession of alcohol or any controlled substance offense, even if you weren’t driving at the time, you are facing:
First offense: License suspension for either one year or until you reach 17, whichever is longer. You may apply to the court for an early withdrawal of your suspension after 90 days of suspension. You may also apply for a restricted license to get you to work and school, which will be granted at the court’s discretion.
Second or subsequent offense: License suspension for two years or until you reach 18, whichever is longer. You may apply to the court for early withdrawal of your suspension after 1 year’s suspension. You must serve a year of suspension before you are eligible for a restricted license.
If you’re convicted of underage drunk driving under T.C.A. § 55-10-415, you face the following penalties:
- Driver’s license suspension for one (1) year
- A fine of $250
- Public service work, in the discretion of the court
If you are underage though, and you are convicted of DUI under T.C.A. § 55-10-401 that requires impairment or a BAC of .08 or above, the penalties you face are the first-offense drunk-driving penalties in Tennessee, which include:
- Between 48 hours and 11 months, 29 days in jail
- A fine of $250 to $1,500
- License revocation for one year
- Court-ordered alcohol and drug treatment
- Restitution to anyone you harmed
- Required ignition interlock on your vehicle, installed and maintained at your own expense
- Towing, bail, court costs, treatment costs, license reinstatement costs
- Mandatory high-risk insurance
If you rely on being able to drive, you can’t afford to be found guilty of Underage DUI, DUI, or a Drug Free Youth Act offense. An attorney may be able to help you limit the negative consequences of these charges by getting them dismissed or reduced, negotiating a plea bargain, or defending you in court.