DWI charges can affect all aspects of your life, from your social circle to your job to your own perception of yourself. It’s important to recognize that a first-time offense can have lasting implications, but it doesn’t mean that you are inherently bad or that you should be penalized severely. Everyone makes mistakes, and DWIs are included.

If you are under the age of 21 when you’re stopped for a DWI, you’re going to face an underage DWI. In North Carolina, underage drinking can happen for a few reasons. In some special cases, drinking underage is legal, which could be a good defense if you’re caught driving with a blood alcohol content higher than allowed as a minor.

When can you legally drink as a minor?

One of the primary exceptions is if you participate in a religious activity. When you choose to participate in any activity that requires you to drink a small amount of wine or alcohol for religious purposes, it’s legal for you to do so thanks to religious protections in the U.S.

Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid driving until the alcohol leaves your system, but if you do drive and have a low BAC when you’re stopped, you can fight the charges that you face for drinking underage.

Another time it may be legal to have a BAC over 0% is if you ate food that contained alcohol. Many foods contain alcohol in their sauces or have alcohol used as part of the cooking process. It would be unreasonable to have people avoid foods that might contain alcohol, and in some cases, they may not know they contain alcohol.

What should you do if you face a DWI?

If you are under the age of 21 and are facing a DWI, the best thing you can do is start to work with your attorney. Your attorney will talk to you about ways to defend yourself, like showing that you didn’t drink willingly or that you had a single drink as a part of a religious ceremony.

Your attorney can help, even if you did drink while underage and while you knew that you could get in trouble with the law. It’s in your best interests to do all you can to fight a conviction, since a conviction can affect you financially and potentially have an impact on your work and on your personal life.