“I’ll never get caught.”
This is the invincible mindset of most young people who engage in underage drinking. Because of that mentality, the mental calculation of the consequences of getting charged with underage drinking isn’t considered. Combating underage drinking begins with education. A person who is drinking underage in NC needs to know that the bottle they are putting to their lips could be the most expensive drink of their life.
This article does not exhaust the consequences of underage drinking in North Carolina. For instance, we won’t discuss the health consequences of underage drinking. The goal is to help make young people aware of the significant ramifications of their choices. The perceived cost has to outweigh the perceived benefit of underage drinking.
If we are going to talk about the most expensive drink of a young person’s life, let’s start the discussion with a financial analysis.
- Fines: can be as high as $1,000.00
- Court Costs: currently $180.00 per offense
- Community Service Fee: $250.00
- Supervised Probation Fees: $40.00 per Month
- Alcohol Assessment and Treatment: $100.00 – $1,200.00
- Limited Driving Privileges: $100.00
- Attorney Fee: $500.00 – $5,000.00
- Expunction Fees: Up to $175.00
- Increased Insurance Rates: Can go Up by as Much as 400% (4x)
- Drug Screen Fees: $25.00 per Screen
- Civil Lawsuits
- Potential Loss of Scholarship or Scholarship Opportunities
- Loss of Employment (ROTC)
Have you ever heard the expression “time is money?” When looking at the time impact of any criminal charge, including underage drinking, the appropriate analysis is: wasted time = money down the toilet. Handling a ticket is going to take precious time away from the important commitments (or free time) in your life.
Estimating the amount of time spent resolving an underage drinking ticket potentially includes:
- Community Service Time: could be as much as 150 hours (normally at least 20).
- Court Time: 10-20 hours
- Time in Alcohol Assessment and Treatment: Typically about 16-30 hours
- Meetings with Attorney or Other Counselors/Advisors
- Anxiety Time: Spent Worrying about Case
How does a young person lose their freedom without going to jail? Take away the keys to the car and the perceived loss of freedom is about identical. The State understands the significance of loss of driving privileges and uses this as a stick to teach the seriousness of this action.
Conviction of some charges related to underage drinking or underage drinking and driving results in automatic loss of driver’s license. The clerk of court is required to report these convictions to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For some of these violations, no driving privilege can be issued.
Rocky Balboa, had great advice on the power of reputation:
“[people] don’t remember you, they remember the rep. You hang out with nice people, you get nice friends, ya understand? You hang out with smart people, you get smart friends. You hang out with yo-yo’s, you get yo-yo friends. You see, simple mathematics.”
The problem with a criminal record is that it becomes a part of your professional reputation. Although a potential employer may not be highly concerned with an underage drinking charge compared to many other criminal charges, the fact of a criminal charge at all signals to the employer “this is a person who breaks the law.” Without knowing you as a person, including your work ethic and your character, an employer is often evaluating a job candidate on paper through resume, writing samples, cover letter, criminal history, driving history, etc.
Sometimes it is possible to remove an underage drinking charge or conviction from a person’s criminal record, but this process takes time, money, and energy.