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What should parents know about underage DWI?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Car Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents

Despite your efforts to teach a teenager to be responsible, they can be stubborn. Even under strict parental supervision, underage teens can find ways to obtain alcohol and sneak out to drive. More concerning is that they often assume they are invincible to real-life consequences.

To better guide your teenager about the severity of irresponsible behavior, it might help to understand the implications of underage driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Minnesota does not tolerate underage drinking and driving

Teens can be reckless in many ways, even more so when drunk driving. Minnesota has zero tolerance for underage drunk drivers. If caught by the authorities, they could face harsh penalties.

According to the state’s Not-a-Drop law, it is a crime for anybody under the age of 21 to operate a vehicle with any trace of alcohol or drugs. This may apply even if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than .08%. Offenders can face up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine for violating the Not-a-Drop law.

It’s important to note that violating the Not-a-Drop law does not constitute a DWI. However, a BAC above 0.08% could subject the teenage driver to face DWI penalties the same as an adult would and more.

Minnesota DWI laws are stricter on underage drivers

An underage driver in breach of Minnesota’s DWI laws will face the same process and penalties that adults face. That means attending adult court instead of juvenile court and the possibility of penalties such as community service, fines or jail time.

To further discourage drunk driving, the state also has Vanessa’s Law in place. Through this statute, anyone under 18 found convicted of alcohol-related offenses, such as a DWI, will lose their license and must wait until their 18th birthday to obtain one again.

An underage DWI can affect your child’s future

Even if your teenager avoids jail time, a DWI conviction on their record might hurt their chances of getting into college or landing a job in the future. A criminal record, especially for something like a DWI, is a red flag for many universities and potential employers.

Although the consequences are harsh, rectifying things is still possible. If your child is charged with DWI or a not-a-drop violation, consider consulting an attorney immediately.