Teen drivers, particularly those between the ages of 16-20, are the least experienced drivers on our roadways. Any impairment, such as drug or alcohol use, makes less experienced drivers even more dangerous. Not only is driving under the influence extremely dangerous to motorists and innocent passengers on the road, underage drunk driving is illegal and has high cases of fatalities. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about one-third of those are alcohol related. Additionally, kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related car crash. Because of these careless and preventable driving incidents, many teens are subject to a DUI offense.
As in many states driving while under the influence is illegal, as is underage drinking. In the state of Michigan, according to the Department of State, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 or more or with any presence of alcohol in your body with the exception of alcohol consumed at generally recognized religious ceremonies. Additionally, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, consume or have alcohol in their possession.
Drivers under the age of 21 are allowed to transport alcohol in their vehicles if they are accompanied by someone 21 years of age or older. A driver, under the age of 21, may be charged with a misdemeanor if he/she is traveling alone and transporting alcohol. Michigan has a zero tolerance rule for individuals under the age of 21. To avoid fines and other legal ramifications, it’s wise for underage individuals to abstain from drinking all together. If you are under the age of 21 and have been pulled over for underage drinking, there will be legal consequences.
In the State of Michigan, if an underage drinker has been pulled over he/she will face, upon a first offense:
- Up to $200 fine and/or up to 360 hours of community service
- Driver’s license restricted for 30 days
- 4 points added to driving record
- A Driver Responsibility fee of $500 for 2 years
Second Offense can include one or more of the following:
- Up to a $500 fine
- Up to 60 days of community service
- Up to 93 days in jail
- Driver’s license suspension
- Added points to driving record
Additionally, anyone under the age of 21 who has alcohol in their possession, in their vehicle, or is caught consuming alcohol or using a fake ID, can face numerous fines.
Driving under the influence, especially under the age of 21, is not worth the risk. Not only are you putting your life in danger, but you are risking the lives of your passengers and innocent motorists on the roadways. With an underage DUI, you can face increased insurance rates, hefty fines, and a hard to erase criminal record. One night of fun is not worth the risk of careless mistake that could have been prevented. Don’t drink and drive; don’t become a teenage alcohol-related crash statistic.
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Andrew Miller is an Avid Legal Blogger, environmental law student, and author. Find him on Twitter @amillerblog