Drunk driving is problematic enough on its own, but when the driver is also underage, the severity of the issue is only furthered. Each state can enforce different laws concerning drinking and driving, and North Carolina is one that takes a zero tolerance stance against drivers who are under the legal age and nevertheless drink and drive. In some ways, North Carolina underage drinking laws can also be stricter than other states.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety details the laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the DPS, there are five levels of misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated, ranging from Level I to Level V. For offenders under the legal drinking age of 21, a 30 day pretrial revocation can occur. If the driver refuses a breathalyzer test, police officers only need to smell alcohol on the driver's breath to convict the driver of drinking and driving. Offenders lose their licenses for one year, but a judge may instate limited driving privileges, depending on the individual case.
The Courier-Tribune of Asheville, North Carolina, comments on the issue of underage drinking, and asserts that most parents are unaware of the problem. Yet underage drinking is one of the leading causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents among teens, and statistics show that the average for taking a first drink is 14. The article also covers the research done on adolescents and drinking, and how alcohol affects the adolescent brain differently than it affects the adult brain. When it comes to underage drinking and driving, the Courier-Tribune points out that, in addition to the revoking of a license, those convicted of underage drinking and driving also face punishment as a Class 2 misdemeanor, community service hours, increase in insurance premiums for three years and overwhelming court and attorney fees.