This did not happen in North Carolina, but the story is a good example of what not to do if you are too drunk to drive. It is also a good example of why the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is so necessary these last few days of summer.
Last week, a handful of motorists on an interstate highway contacted police about an erratic driver. When officers pulled the vehicle over, they found a 15-year-old behind the wheel, his 47-year-old relative in the passenger seat and their friend in the back seat. According to the arrest report, although the teen was drunk and belligerent, police somehow discovered he was driving because his relative was too drunk. The teenager does not have a driver’s license.
Their passenger later explained that the 47-year-old and the teenager were at his house when they decided to go swimming. The men had had a few beers before they went to the riverfront, and the friend admitted later that he had seen the teenager sipping a beer. Shortly before 7:00 p.m., the three got back into the car and headed for home.
Initially, the 47-year-old was driving, but after a few minutes on the road, the 15-year-old took over. According to the police report, the passenger asked what was up, only to be told to “shut … up and ride with it.”
Blood alcohol tests indicated both drivers were over the limit. The limit for minors in their state is 0.08 for adults and 0.02 for minors. (In North Carolina, the limit for drivers under 21 is 0.01 percent.) With a 0.18 percent reading, the teen was well over the legal limit in both categories. He now faces charges of underage driving while intoxicated and driving without a license.
For his relative, the charges were allowing an unauthorized minor to drive and cruelty to children. In North Carolina, he could have faced charges for providing alcohol to a minor.
The man was right to trust his instincts in one way: He realized he should not be driving. His mistake was allowing the teenager to drive, instead of calling a cab or a friend for a ride.
Source: WTSP/10 News, “Teen charged with DUI was adult’s designated driver,” Pensacola News Journal staff, Aug. 21, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Raleigh underage drinking charges page.