Underage Zero Tolerance Laws
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious crime in the United States. If you are caught driving impaired, you may face penalties such as a license suspension, probation, and/or jail time. While the consequences of DUI are always severe, drivers under 21 face the harshest consequences of them all—especially if you live in a state with underage zero tolerance laws.
Zero Tolerance: Any Is Too Much
Designed to deter underage motorists from drinking and driving, “Zero Tolerance Laws” prohibit drivers under 21 from operating a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their bloodstream at all. Whereas federal law imposes a 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) limit on drivers who have reached the legal drinking age, underage drivers are given much less leniency when it comes to the amount of alcohol they are permitted to have in their systems.
While most states require underage drivers to adhere to a strict 0.02% BAC limit, in jurisdictions with Zero Tolerance Laws, an underage driver can be charged with drunk driving for having a BAC above 0.00%.
Regardless of whether you live in a state that has zero tolerance laws or not, you can expect to face harsh punishment if you are convicted of underage drinking and driving. For example, an underage driving conviction typically carries a mandatory license suspension of 90 days or more. In addition, you may be required to pay several hundred dollars or more in fine, as well as spend time in jail and/or perform community service.
Repeat Offenders Face Worse Punishments
It is also important to note that the penalties for underage driving will only increase with each subsequent arrest. As a result, a second or third conviction carries much harsher penalties than a first offense. Likewise, if you are arrested with an extremely high BAC, you may also face additional charges as a result.