According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when polled, 40 percent of Massachusetts high school students admitted to consuming at least one alcoholic drink within the last 30 days. While this number may seem high to unsuspecting parents, the fact is that many Massachusetts teens drink alcohol. In cases where a teen gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming one or more alcoholic beverages and is subsequently stopped by a police officer, the laws and related penalties for underage drunk driving are unforgiving and harsh.

While the blood alcohol content limit for drivers age 21 and older in Massachusetts is 0.08, the per se BAC for drivers under age 21 is only 0.02. This means that if a teen driver has consumed any amount of alcohol within the last several hours of being pulled over, it’s highly likely that he or she will be arrested and face criminal Operating Under the Influence charges.

If convicted, teens and young adults who are under the age of 21 and who are arrested for OUI will face a mandatory driver’s license suspension for at least 30 days. Additionally, it’s highly likely that a teen will be required to attend alcohol awareness classes and/or counseling. What’s more, a teen is likely to face suspension from any school athletic or academic programs which could also jeopardize a teen’s college scholarships and even possibly admission to some colleges or specific programs.

With so much at stake, it’s crucial that teens who are facing OUI charges consult with a criminal defense attorney. In any drink driving arrest case, there are numerous factors that must be investigated and determined. This is often especially true in cases involving underage drivers as the vast majority are not aware of proper legal procedures or of their individual rights.

Source: Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, “Suspensions & Hearings: Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of Alcohol or Drugs,” Oct. 15, 2015