According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), minors between 12 and 20 account for a 1/10 of the nation’s alcohol consumption. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol is a major reason why teenagers are involved in roadway crashes that result in fatalities; more than one out of every three deaths in the 16-20 age group are due to alcohol use.

Across the country, adults who drink and drive can be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content is .08 or more. For commercial drivers, the limit in just .04. For drivers under 21 in Maryland, any driver between 18 and 20 who has a BAC of .08 will be charged with a DUI in adult court. If convicted, their license will be suspended. Drivers under 18 will be tried in juvenile court.


Zero tolerance for underage drivers

Maryland has a zero-tolerance law for drivers under 21. Maryland Code 16–113 provides that no driver under 21 can drink any alcohol before driving a car. Essentially, this means that if your child’s BAC is .02 or more, he or she will be in violation of the law. If found guilty, his or her license can be suspended by the Motor Vehicle Administration until he or she reaches the age of 21.

Some underage drivers may be required to use an Interlock Ignition Device for three years (even after they reach age 21) in order to drive any vehicle.

In some cases, your child may be able to obtain a restricted license which limits the hours your child can drive. For example, if your child needs to drive to get to school, then a restricted license may be possible.

Tips for preventing teen drinking and driving deaths

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, some of the methods that help reduce teenage drinking and deaths include:

  • A minimum legal drinking age. Every state makes it illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is under 21. It helps if the state and local governments enforce these laws.
  • Graduated driver licensing. Most states, including Maryland, now require that young drivers show they have acquired sufficient experience before they are giving more driving privilege – such as driving with passengers or driving at night.
  • Parental involvement. The more parents take an active approach in making sure their children understand the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, the better chance they have of helping their children avoid DUI charges. Parents can help their children by:
    • Talking to their children about the dangers of drinking and driving
    • Providing alcohol-free parties
    • Staying in touch with the parents of their child’s friends
    • Letting the child know they can always call a parent for a ride
    • Having a liquor-free house, or locking up the liquor in the home
    • Advising older children not to help younger children get beer, wine, or any alcoholic beverage

The best defense to a DUI charge is not to let your child have the car keys unless he or she fully understands the dangers of drunk driving. If your child if charged with a DUI, or the MVA is seeking to suspend his or her license due to a combination of alcohol and driving, our DUI defense lawyers in Bowies and Crofton may be able to help. If your child has been charged with driving while under the influence, call Carey Law Office at 301-464-2500 or use our contact form to make an appointment.