Illegal to Drink, Illegal to Drive: Things to Know About Zero Tolerance Laws

Illegal to Drink, Illegal to Drive: Things to Know About Zero Tolerance Laws

Drinking and driving is a serious offense. But it’s even more of an offense when a minor does it. There are zero tolerance laws in place specifically designed to deter underage drinkers from consuming alcohol, especially when behind the wheel.

If you’re unfamiliar with zero tolerance laws and their consequences, take a look at the info below.

What are Zero Tolerance Laws?

In the United States, the Zero Tolerance regulation describes the regulation that makes it unlawful for people under the age of 21 to consume alcohol or purchase any kind. While particular penalties under the regulation might differ by state, this legislation applies to all 50 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia.

Generally, the legislation states that driving with a BAC (blood alcohol degree) of 0.08 or greater is unlawful. With Zero Tolerance regulations, regardless of just how much alcohol remains in an individual’s system while driving, if that person is under the age of 21, they’ve committed a criminal offense.

The Objective of Zero Tolerance Driving Laws

The reason for zero tolerance comes down to stats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one-third of all fatalities for kids between the ages of 15 and 20 years old take place in car collisions. Around 35 percent of those fatalities connect to alcohol, which is practically double the amount of alcohol-related deaths affecting motorists over 21.

This is because a reduced degree of alcohol consumption in minors is still sufficient enough to create a deadly crash.
Nonetheless, the objective of zero tolerance goes beyond the risk of driving intoxicated while underage. The purpose of zero tolerance is basically to shield youngsters from themselves.

Simply put, an underage DUI charge can have lasting, irreversible, impacts on the rest of an individual’s life. A minor driver with a DUI sentence can have a difficult time finding a job, entering into a university, and getting an insurance policy to drive a car.

Zero Tolerance Laws for Other Circumstances

Zero tolerance can relate to other circumstances also. Some states have zero tolerance regulations for riding in a car with an open container. No matter how the opened alcohol container got there, the length of time it’s been there, or where it came from, the police officer is forced to act if he observes an open bottle in the automobile.

Numerous school districts have passed zero tolerance laws pertaining to weapons and narcotics on university grounds. Young people can get expelled or suspended from college for having any type of weapon or any type of drugs on them. No mitigating or extenuating situations are considered zero tolerance.

Predetermined Punishment

When it comes to established penalties for individuals who break the Zero Tolerance laws, the penalty differs by state. The definitions of the crimes for which the legislation develops established penalty change as well. For example, one state might call it “driving intoxicated,” or DUI, while another calls it “operating (an automobile) intoxicated,” or OUI.

Sometimes, fixed penalties can also influence non-motorized automobiles, like bikes and golf carts. Surprisingly on a federal level, zero tolerance has more to do with weapons, like the ownership and selling of weapons.

In cases where the offender has prior convictions, if the authorities discover that he has a gun, he faces a minimal penalty of 10 years behind bars.

Zero Tolerance Charges

The repercussions for violating zero tolerance laws differ from state to state and are generally equal to or more serious than standard DUI/DWI laws. For instance, in some states, if you are over 21 and your BAC is over .08, your driver’s license could be suspended for at least four months. However, if you are under 21 and your BAC is over .01, your license is immediately terminated for one year. Other particular factors include:

Level of Offense. On a DWI first offense, most states will terminate your driver’s license ranging from one month to one year. You may also be required to pay fines, do community service, and spend some time jail time. For instance, the consequences for the first offense of zero tolerance laws in Michigan are the following:

  • Up to $250 fine and/or
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Driver license restricted mandate for one month
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility charge for two consecutive years

The charges for a second offense within seven years are:

  • Up to $500 fine and/or
  • Up to two months of community service
  • Up to 93 days behind bars
  • Driver license suspension for three months. Any previous drunk driving convictions result in a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility charge for two consecutive years

If there are any extensive factors like injuries or numerous offenses, the penalties are worse.

Refusing an Alcohol Test

The penalties for refusing to submit to a BAC test are actually worse than failing the BAC test. For example, in some states, if you are under 21 and drive with a BAC of .02 or more, your first offense results in a license suspension of six months. Yet, if you refuse the BAC test, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for a minimum of a year.

Don’t Violate Zero Tolerance Laws

As you can see, there are huge consequences for violating zero tolerance laws. If you are a minor, you don’t have the option to consume alcohol, especially when driving.

When you’re riding with friends or by yourself, be careful not to get busted for underage drinking. The repercussions for it aren’t worth the headache that it causes later down the line.

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