Driving after consuming when a person is under 21 years of age – In North Carolina, it is also against the law to drive a motor vehicle while impaired. It is the basis of North Carolina DWI law. Additionally, it against the law for someone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol or controlled substance in their system, whether or not they are impaired at the time. This law is covered under North Carolina General Statute 20-138.3, and is generally referred to “driving after consuming.”
In this blog, we will talk about driving after consuming and attempt to shed some light on it. Like all of our blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the advice and counsel of a DWI attorney.
What is driving after consuming?
Driving after consuming is simply a person under age 21 driving a motor vehicle after consuming or using a controlled substance, with said control substance still in your system. It is categorized as a Class 2 Misdemeanor in North Carolina, and follows the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines in addition to some other consequences.
Similarities to North Carolina DWI
Some of the consequences for driving after consuming are very similar to DWI not only in the conviction, but also in the charging phase. Some of the examples are as follows:
- This is subject to North Carolina implied consent law. We cover some of the aspects of implied consent law in our breathalyzer refusal blog.
- A one-year license suspension will occur with a conviction, similar to rules regarding DWI license suspensions.
- Limited driving privileges can be available after conviction. However, limited driving privileges are not available for people convicted of this crime if they are under 18 years of age.
- Challenging reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause may be a viable defensive strategy.
Differences from North Carolina DWI
There are several notable differences between driving after consuming and DWI in North Carolina. Below are just a few examples:
- Impairment is not a necessary element of driving after consuming. Simply have a controlled substance in your system is enough. For example, in North Carolina it is assumed that a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher would be enough for conviction of DWI, but a lower reading likely would not (in and of itself). For driving after consuming, a blood alcohol level of .01 would be sufficient for conviction.
- Proper use of a prescribed medicine, would not be sufficient for a conviction. Whereas DWIs can occur even if someone was properly using a prescription medicine.
- A charge of driving after consuming does not come with a civil revocation.
This was just a basic overview and there are many other things to consider including but not limited to:
- A person can be charged with both driving after consuming and DWI
- There are other collateral consequences of conviction of this crime, such as fees, community service, and fines.
- It is also important to note that you someone can be charged with and convicted of both Driving while impaired and driving after consuming. This is because one is not an included offense of the other, they are separate charges.
- Driving after consuming, although a misdemeanor does not follow the same expunction rules as most misdemeanors.
If you have been charged with Driving after consuming under the age of 21 contact us. We handle this charge as well as DWI charges in Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.