Underage drinking is a common issue throughout the United States. Because all forms of drinking and driving endanger the public, lawmakers throughout the country have created strict state laws to govern the activities of drivers, establishing criminal penalties and fines for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. These laws are especially strict for anyone under the legal drinking age. In the state of North Carolina, for example, so-called “zero tolerance” laws make it illegal for motorists under the age of 21 to drive with any quantity of alcohol in their systems.
That said, underage drinking continues in spite of the law, as the following statistics indicate, and this results in numerous instances of underage drinking and driving:
- In 2015, 7.7 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 said that they had drunk more than “just a few sips” of alcohol within the previous 30 days.
- Eleven percent of the alcohol drunk in the United States is consumed by individuals between the ages of 12 and 20.
- Young people don’t drink as often as adults; however, when they drink, they drink more by engaging in “binge drinking.” Binge drinking tends to involve consuming over four to five drinks within a few hours.
- Approximately 5.1 million underage drinkers reported that they had binge drunk at least once within the last 30 days.
- Approximately 1.3 million young people reported that they had binge drunk at least five times within the last 30 days.
By reviewing these statistics, it’s easy to see why state lawmakers and police enforce underage drunk driving rules so strictly. However, just because you were arrested and accused of this crime does not mean you were guilty. A North Carolina criminal law court will not convict you of any crime until, and only if, the prosecution can prove you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.