Underage drinking is a major problem in this country. A recent study revealed that half of all teenagers had at least one drink by age 15, and that statistic rose to 70 percent by age 18. Tennessee is not immune from the problem, either. According to the International Institute for Alcohol Awareness, approximately 243,000 underage Tennesseans drink alcohol each year, and this accounts for a whopping 14.9 percent of all alcohol sales in the state. Even more alarming, a substantial number of those underage drinkers get in their car and drive after having the drinks.
In response to this, Tennessee has some of the toughest underage DUI laws in the nation. The state has a zero tolerance policy for minors under the age of 21 who drive under the influence of alcohol. Any person under age 21 who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or higher than .02 is subject to the enforcement of DUI laws. Because minors tend to be smaller in stature and often don’t have experience with alcohol, even one drink can send a minor over the limit.
The punishment for a violation can include:
Revocation of driver’s license for a minimum of one year
Substantial fines, which can be up to $1,500 for a first offense
Mandatory alcohol counseling programs
The punishment that an individual will receive depends on whether this is their first offense, how high their BAC was, and whether anyone was injured as a result of their actions.
Young people often fail to realize that having a DUI on your record can have many long-term consequences as well. You may be required to disclose all past crimes (and this includes DUIs) on job applications and on college admission applications. Even if you don’t disclose it, many employers use criminal background checks to screen applicants, and they will find it out.