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What are DUI zero tolerance laws?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2020 | DUI

Some states, such as Minnesota and North Dakota, want to discourage people from driving while intoxicated. One way to do so involves instituting harsh penalties for persons accused of DUI. Since persons driving under the influence present risks to themselves and others, it makes sense that authorities wish to curtail the behavior. Underage drivers can make poor decisions, and they find themselves dealing with “zero tolerance” policies.

Zero tolerance policies target underage drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking. Zero tolerance rules involve charging minors and young adults with DUI offenses regardless of their system’s blood alcohol content. An adult must reach a specific blood alcohol content threshold to face DUI charges. Under zero-tolerance rules, even a small amount of alcohol becomes enough to charge an underage driver. One small drink becomes all it takes for a 19-year-old to face zero-tolerance consequences. Remember, the legal drinking age is 21.

That said, different states have different rules regarding zero tolerance. One state may set a BAC threshold at 0.02 while another state lists 0.00. Regardless of the statute, underage persons should not be drinking, much less drinking and driving. Strict consequences, such as driving suspensions and more, could result from violating state law.

Driving under the influence also includes driving while using illegal drugs or, possibly, legal ones. A legal prescription could impair someone’s ability to drive. With illegal drugs, a driver might find him or herself facing possession or even intent to distribute charges after a traffic stop.

Implied consent laws come into play as well. A refusal to take a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test for individuals under the age of 21 counts as an automatic test failure.

Law enforcement officers still need probable cause to pull over vehicles when they suspect the drivers are guilty of DUI. Drivers of all ages have rights, and police must follow applicable state laws.


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