If you asked the average person what the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold is for driving under the influence (DUI), they would probably be able to tell you that it is a .08. What many people do not know is the BAC limit for those who are drinking and driving, but who are underage. If one of your children, or another teen you know, is considering getting behind the wheel after they have consumed any alcohol at all, they may want to think again. Not only is the threshold for underage DUI much lower than it is for other drivers, and many states have zero tolerance laws.
What Are Zero Tolerance DUI Laws?
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) reports that teen alcohol use kills more teens each year than all other illegal drugs combined. A quarter of the fatal auto accidents involving teens also involve an underage drinking driver. Even with these types of statistics, many teens do not consider alcohol to be illegal. Many do not realize that buying, as well as providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 is actually illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are a few exceptions to this law in some states which allow families to provide alcohol to an underage person in a private location.
Due to the rising number of teenage alcohol related deaths, states imposed zero tolerance laws. These laws basically state that any underage drivers with alcohol in their system can be charged with DUI. States have set their BAC limits for underage drivers at one of the following:
With levels this low, most underage drivers who have consumed any alcohol at all will be in violation of the law.
What Is The Penalty For Underage Drinking And Driving?
As with state DUI laws, the penalties imposed for underage drinking vary from state to state. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the driver being stopped, there may be additional charges levied. One common charge often used is a minor in possession (MIP) charge, due to it being illegal for the underage person to be in possession of the alcohol. Just as the laws vary, so do the penalties. Some of the penalties may include:
- Immediate suspension, or revocation of their drivers license
- Substantial fees and fines
- An order to enroll in a drug or alcohol treatment problem
- Community service, and more
There are factors which may be considered when determining the penalties to be meted out. These factors include:
- The age of the person involved
- Whether they were legally intoxicated when stopped
- Severity of property damage or injuries
- Prior history of alcohol or drug offenses
In some cases, if it can be proven that an adult provided the alcohol, the underage drinker consumer, they too will be charged. Not only will these persons be charged with providing the underage drivers with alcohol, but they can be found to be liable for any injuries that are incurred as a result of the person drinking and driving. Do not allow this to be you. Never purchase, or provide alcohol for anyone who is under the age of 21.
If someone you know who is under the age of 21, has been charged with DUI, or a zero tolerance violation, advise them to immediately contact a drug defense attorney. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will know the laws in your state, and will be able to work within those laws to possibly get your case dismissed. If they are unable to get your case dismissed, they may be able to at least secure driving privileges so that the driver is able to get back and forth to work, and school.