Monday, December 11, 2017

What Is The Zero Tolerance Law For DUI?

Everyone has a different threshold when it comes to drinking and feeling intoxicated. Some feel tipsy after one drink, while others can drink three or four glasses and feel no effect at all. For DUI, there is a legal blood alcohol concentration limit: if you take a breathalyzer test and your BAC is higher than 0.08%, you are automatically considered over the legal drinking threshold and legally “impaired.”

Every state in America has laws about underage drinking. You have to be over the age of 21 to legally drink. When it comes to teens drinking and driving, the laws are stricter. There are different standards about when a teenager - or anyone under the age of 21 - is considered legally intoxicated. These zero tolerance laws are in place to punish kids who drink and drive more harshly than those who are over the age of 21 and are drinking legally.

The Zero Tolerance laws make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have any alcohol in their system when they get behind the wheel of a car. Zero tolerance means that if you have any alcohol in your system when tested - any from over 0.00 to 0.02%, depending on the state where you are pulled over - you are considered to be under the influence of alcohol, and you might be charged with a DUI. That means that just one harmless glass of wine at dinner can land anyone 21 with a DUI.

Why are there zero tolerance laws?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 1/3 of all fatalities in children ages 15 to 20 are the result of a car accident. Of those, nearly 35% of the deaths are attributed to alcohol and driving. These are staggering numbers: alcohol-related car accident fatalities are nearly twice as much for those under 21 as they are for those who are over the age of 21.

In 1995, the National Highway Systems Designation Act required that states consider using 0.02% BAC levels for those who are under 21 and drinking. If the states did not comply, they would not be able to qualify for Federal Aid Highway Funds. Since that is a huge chunk of a state’s budget, all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have complied with these “per se offense” laws.

Per se offense laws mean that a police officer does not have to prove sobriety to find someone guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol. If an individual’s BAC level is over 0.08% for anyone over the age of 21 and over 0.02% for those under 21, then they can be found guilty of DUI in a court of law without any other evidence needing to be present.

When zero tolerance laws first went into effect in 12 of the 50 states, the NHTSA found that there was an automatic 20% reduction in deaths due to driving and alcohol at nighttime for those who were under the age of 21. What’s more, the biggest declines in fatal accidents occurred in those individuals whose BAC levels were 0.02% or less.

What if you are accused of a zero tolerance offense?

If you are found to have a 0.02% or higher BAC, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have any defense against being convicted of a DUI. There are some defenses that an experienced lawyer can use to plead your case. Those can include arguing that the BAC test was not done correctly, that procedures were not followed, or even that the test itself wasn’t compliant with the laws of the state where you are being accused. If you want to ensure that you have a healthy defense, then finding a lawyer who specializes in DUI is your best option to fighting against the consequences that come with a dwi first offence houston, especially for kids under 21 who are being accused under zero tolerance laws.

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