For adult drivers who are 21 years old or older, the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Reaching or exceeding this limit in a breath test is going to lead to DUI charges for someone who is driving at the time. The court can presume that that person was impaired if their BAC has reached this level.
However, zero tolerance laws are in place for drivers who are under 21 years old. The law has no tolerance for any level of drinking at this age because the person is too young to legally drink to begin with. As such, if they take a breath test and have a discernible amount of alcohol (0.02% or more) in their system, they can get a DUI for driving under the influence. But they don’t have to reach the higher legal limit of 0.08%.
The problems this can create
The point of this law does make sense. The general idea is simply that a teenage driver should theoretically not have consumed any alcohol. Doing so could impact their ability to drive severely, so the laws are more strict.
But the issue is that a teenage driver could inadvertently reach a positive BAC reading. For instance, someone could consume a spiked drink without their knowledge. This might put them at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02%. That’s incredibly low, and they may not even feel the effects of the alcohol, so they wouldn’t know that they were over the legal limit under the zero-tolerance laws. But they could still be arrested if they got pulled over.
If something like this has happened to your child, be sure you know about all of your criminal defense options.