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Does the risk of a DUI change by age?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Anytime someone gets behind the wheel after a night out, they could face the risk of getting pulled over by police. They might believe they are okay to drive, but a breath test can often pick up even the slightest hints of alcohol.

The breath test and even criminal charges do not discriminate by age – but is there a specific age group that faces a higher risk of charges?

At what age do DUI charges pose the most risk?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), young adults made up the largest percentage of drunk drivers. The statistics say that of the individuals who drove under the influence in 2019:

  • 27% were between the age of 21 and 24 years old
  • 25% were between the age of 25 and 34 years old

This is not at all to say that older drivers do not face charges. However, these statistics indicate that over half of those who drive under the influence of alcohol are younger adults.

The risk of facing DUI charges may not exactly change depending on one’s age. Risk often depends on the circumstances of a specific situation. Even so, younger adults should understand the issues behind this higher rate of charges.

Why do these ages see the highest rates?

There may be a few reasons why it is more common for younger adults to face the risk of DUI charges, including:

  • For many at this age, drinking alcohol is still a new experience since the legal drinking age is 21
  • On average, the human brain is not fully developed until roughly 25 years of age
  • It is more common for individuals in their early 20s to be involved in nightlife and party culture

Regardless of the reason – or someone’s age, for that matter – these explanations will not act as a defense against DUI charges. The penalties for driving under the influence in North Carolina are still steep.

Many people in this age range are just beginning their adult lives, finishing school and beginning their careers. The long-term penalties of a DUI, such as a suspended license and hefty fines, could put all of that on hold. While the reasons above may not help defend that future against criminal charges, there are other defenses available if individuals act quickly.