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Zero tolerance for underage DUI

Many young people drink alcohol, despite laws against it. While of course they should obey all laws regarding the legal age for drinking alcohol in their state, they should also know that if they drink and drive, they will be facing zero tolerance laws for underage DUI.

In all 50 states and in the District of Columbia, it is illegal for anyone who is under 21 to buy or possess alcohol. That is important to note, since it renders those under 21 liable for being in possession of alcohol even if someone else bought it for them.

Those under 21 also face zero tolerance laws for driving under the influence. Motorists who are over 21 will need to have a blood alcohol content above their state's legal limit to be charged with a DUI. Often, that legal limit is 0.08 or higher.

However, motorists who are under 21 can be charged with a DUI even if their blood alcohol content is much less than that legal limit, since there is zero tolerance for motorists under 21 who have alcohol in their systems. So, for example, a motorist who was under 21 could be charged with a DUI if tests of their systems indicate a small amount of alcohol, such as between 0.00 and 0.02 BAC.

Zero tolerance laws for motorists under 21 sprang up out of concern that those motorists were particularly at risk for being in fatal accidents. That concern is borne out by statistics, which show that about 35 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes that involved15- to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related.

Hopefully this information will encourage those under 21 to not drink alcohol, and to arrange for safe transportation like a non-drinking designated driver or a taxi before attending events where alcohol may be served.

Source: FindLaw, "Underage DUI: Zero Tolerance Laws," accessed Sep. 15, 2015

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