Understanding zero-tolerance laws

When your teenager is charged with a DUI, you may wonder what will happen. Underage drinking and driving falls under zero-tolerance laws in Pennsylvania. We at the Marinaro Law Firm understand it is important for you to know what this means for your teenager.

FindLaw says that people under the age of 21 can be charged with drinking and driving if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.02 percent. When an adolescent has a BAC level higher than this, law enforcement does need to demonstrate that he or she is drunk. The BAC level for teenagers is set so low because young people are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision if they have even a small amount of alcohol in their system. One study noted that states which limited BAC levels to 0.02 percent for teenagers saw the largest decrease in fatal accidents.

This limitation of underage BAC levels is called zero-tolerance. While you may sometimes think it is a bit harsh to give adolescents a criminal DUI charge for drinking and driving, zero-tolerance laws are actually in place to help protect your teenager. Alcohol plays a role in 35 percent of the fatal accidents involving young people between the ages of 15 and 20. Zero-tolerance laws are in place in every state. Being convicted of an underage DUI can affect your teenager for several years, as their car insurance cover may change and the conviction usually appears on background checks.

Teenagers are not tried as adults for underage drinking and driving and sometimes are adjudicated rather than tried in court. Your son or daughter may be required to perform community service or go through a period of probation so he or she learns to change their behavior. More information about this subject can be found on our webpage.

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