It is certainly true that no one in the United States is supposed to drink until they turn 21 years old. The legal drinking age has moved around a bit over the decades, but it has firmly been set at 21 for quite some time now and all teenagers understand that they are not allowed to drink.
As a parent, your teenager may even tell you that they don’t consume alcohol with their friends. They may tell you that they avoid those types of parties and social gatherings. But you need to understand that teenagers will often lie about their drinking habits, and some statistics suggest that they probably are drinking already, no matter what they’re telling you.
The first drink
For instance, consider the average age of a first drink for Americans. The legal drinking age is 21, but the average age of someone’s first drink is 17.1 years old. This is essentially four years before they’re supposed to consume any alcohol, and it is while the vast majority of them are still in high school. Some high school students do graduate at 17, but many are 18, and so a lot of this drinking happens during junior or senior year of high school.
Even if your teenager only has a single drink and doesn’t feel impaired or intoxicated, they could wind up getting a DUI or they could face other alcohol-related charges for these drinking habits. If you get the call from the police station, you may be surprised to find out what’s been happening behind your back, and you’re also likely very worried about your child’s future. A DUI conviction for those under age 21, or at any age, will result in license suspension. Additionally, if a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol level higher than .02 their license will be suspended for six months. Unfortunately, if a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol level that exceeds .08 they may also be facing jail time, steep fines and suspension of their license until they reach the age of 21.
Possible additional charges
If a teen driver is stopped and is suspected of being under the influence, they may face other charges in addition to DUI.
- Distribution charges: If there were other minors in the vehicle who also consumed alcohol the driver may be charged with distributing alcohol to a minor
- Possession charges: The driver who is facing a DUI arrest may be charged with underage possession of alcohol
- Child Endangerment: Drivers under 21 who have a blood alcohol level over .02 may face child endangerment violations.
You absolutely need to know about all of the legal defense options you have to protect that future.