Will an underage DWI stay on my child’s record?

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If your child faces drunk driving charges, you could be reeling with worry. Suddenly their plans for college and their future are in jeopardy.

As a parent, you wish to protect your children. So, you may wonder what you can do to handle this danger. Can you make it disappear? Here are a few critical things to know.

First, zero-tolerance increases the risk of a criminal record

As everyone knows, driving while impaired by alcohol is against the law. However, merely consuming alcohol is against the law for anyone under the age of 21. Therefore, North Carolina has a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to underage DWIs. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, even the smell of alcohol on a teenager’s breath could lead to an arrest.

This zero-tolerance policy increases the risk of DWI charges on your child’s record, should they face such a situation.

So, what about your child’s record?

With the risks of DWI charges so high for your child, it is natural that you want to do what you can to prevent a conviction on their record – and, in turn, prevent it from affecting their goals and future plans. There are two things to know regarding your child’s record:

  • Is their record sealed? Juvenile records are generally confidential. However, DWI convictions often have a double effect, appearing on both a criminal record and a driving record. A DWI stays on an individual’s driving record for seven to ten years. Even if a juvenile record is confidential, the driving record is usually accessible. On the other hand, if your child already turned 18, this offense would not be on a juvenile record, and therefore not sealed.
  • Can you clear the conviction from their record? DWI convictions are not eligible for expunction from a criminal record in North Carolina. This conviction remains on one’s criminal record unless courts find them not guilty of drunk driving or they get the charge dismissed.

A DWI could stay on your child’s record, impacting their future opportunities for years to come. For example, in the immediate future, they may face significant challenges when applying for college. Higher education institutions frequently reject applicants with a DWI on their records.

This is not intended to frighten parents or their children. However, it is important to understand how critical it is to seek experienced defense as soon as possible and fight these charges.