Driving after Consuming While Under 21…. Yes, that’s a thing! The question we often hear is why someone was charged with Driving After Consuming While Under the Age of 21 (DAC <21) and Driving While Impaired (DWI), when they have a friend, who, in “similar” circumstances, was only charged with DAC <21.
While both DAC and DWI are level 2 and level 1 misdemeanor charges respectively, related to alcohol or impairing substances that have been consumed, what differentiates them is the blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC).
If you are under the age of 21, and decided to consume any amount of alcohol or drugs, and drive a motor vehicle, you are a potential candidate to get charged with DAC <21 at least because:
- the legal permissible alcohol drinking age in the U.S. is 21 and;
- contrary to other states, drugs in NC are not legal to consume.
Here is an example as to why the “friend” was only charged with a DAC:
John Doe, a 20-year-old college student, was at a friend’s house and decided to take an illegal drug. Shortly after he left, a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer stopped him for swerving out of his lane. When questioned, John Doe did not admit to consuming alcohol or drugs. He even agreed to blow into the portable breathalyzer and the result was negative for alcohol. John Doe was relieved and thought he would be on his way shortly. After the officer did further investigating, John Doe was placed under arrest for DAC Under the Age of 21. To John Doe’s surprise, he thought the arrest was illegal. What John Doe didn’t know is that a police officer can arrest someone under the subjective understanding that the driver’s physical or mental faculties were inhibited by an impairing substance other than alcohol. Following that, he was driven to the detention center, he waived his rights, and agreed to submit to a blood test. Fast forward to a few weeks later, the blood results indicated the presence of illegal drugs, giving some light to the trooper’s probable cause for the arrest.
Things could have taken a different turn if John Doe had consumed alcohol to the point that the blood alcohol concentration resulted in a reading of 0.08 or above; or the drugs he consumed caused him to be ‘appreciably impaired.’ In this case, he would’ve been charged with DAC and DWI. It is important to note that, while DAC charges apply to cases of any alcohol amount or controlled substances in the defendant’s body, DWI require an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above or the more subjective “appreciable impairment”. Since John Doe was only charged with a DAC, the officer did not feel he was “appreciably impaired”.
Have you been charged with a DAC or DWI? or Both? Give our office a call for a FREE CONSULTATION.