Basics of the Zero Tolerance Law
Zero tolerance laws for drivers under 21 years have been introduced in all states. The laws are designed to lower the number of accidents caused by young drivers. This is because underage drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes than other drivers.
The purpose is also to discourage teenagers from drinking alcohol all together.
The zero tolerance laws define a lower legal limit and severe penalties for young drivers with alcohol in the blood. The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level at which an adult driver will be charged with a criminal offense is 0.08% in all states. Under the zero tolerance laws, young drivers may be charged with an offense at much lower levels. In some states, any amount of alcohol in the blood, breath or urine may result in a conviction. In other states, the legal limit is .01 or .02 percent.
No Other Proof is Needed
It is important to remember that when a driver is operating a vehicle with a BAC over the legal limit, no further proof of impairment is needed. Evidence of alcohol in the blood is enough for a conviction in court.
It is also important to understand that it doesn’t matter if criminal charges are filed or not, you will always lose your driving privileges. This is known as an “administrative per se” suspension or revocation. It is imposed by the state’s department of vehicles or public safety (commonly known as DMV or DPS). The suspension period varies greatly between states, but may be up to two years for a first offense. A suspension imposed the court will normally be added to the administrative suspension.
Even a Small Amount of Alcohol Put You at Risk
It has been said before and it is probably emphasized in your driver handbook: even one drink can impair your driving. This often true if you are young and a new driver.
A small mistake in traffic may give an officer a reason to pull you over. The officer is trained to spot if you have been drinking or not. If there is any doubt, the officer will ask you to take a test. Under the implied consent law, you have already agreed to submit to such tests. If you refuse, your license will be suspended or revoked by DMV. And there is no guarantee that you will not be convicted in court. The refusal will most likely be used against you. Penalties may also be more severe after a refusal, especially if you are a minor.
Don’t Drink and Drive
By not drinking all together, you can stay away from any trouble. And if you have been drinking, let somebody else drive or use public transport. Don’t let the alcohol cloud your judgment.
Think of this: even if criminal consequences of a conviction are tough, social consequences can be tougher. You may risk future opportunities, such as getting the job you want or a scholarship. Friends, coworkers, colleagues, and family may start to mistrust you. Your economy may also suffer due to higher insurance premiums and credit rates.
Things to Remember for Your Test
- The zero tolerance law in your state applies to anyone under 21 years.
- The legal limit at which you may be charged with an offense is 0.00 – 0.02 percent (check the rules in your state).
- If you are above the legal limit, you are legally impaired. No other proof is needed.
- If you are above the legal limit, you will lose your license.
- Understand the term “administrative per se”.
- A conviction in court may result in fines, license suspension, jail time and/or community service. You may also be required to attend a driver improvement course or an alcohol awareness course.