Zero Tolerance OWI

My son is 18 years old and was charged for drinking and driving. Will he deal with the same penalties that someone over 21 would?

- EF, Michigan


For those that are under the legal drinking age of 21, what is known as the "Zero Tolerance Law" will apply. This can be against individuals that legally have a right to drive; they just can't legally drink as well. While a typical driver that is 21 years old or above will be prohibited from operating their vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher, those under 21 should not be found with alcohol present in their system that reaches above .02 percent. This will be known as the presence of "bodily alcohol content." An underage individual can face significant repercussions even if they are under the limit of .08. The range for bodily alcohol content is between .02 and .08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, 67 milliliters of urine or 210 liters of breath. The laws for this will be changing in October of 2013 and the range of bodily alcohol content will then be set at .02 to .10.When alcohol is present in the system of a person due to a recognized religious event then this may be excluded.

When an underage drivers BAC level goes above .08 percent then the charges will be increased as well. Zero tolerance shows the strong stance that is taken by the state and law enforcement is continually on the lookout for these cases. If your son is charged for underage drinking and driving, there are a number of penalties that may ensue. A first offense can lead to the following: four points on a driving record, a 30 days restriction of a driver's license, community service for as many as 360 hours, $200 in fines and two years of the Driver Responsibility Fee of $500. When a second offense takes place within a seven year window, the penalties can be increased to the following: License suspension for 90 days, four points on a driving record, $500 fine, as many as 93 days in jail, community service for up to 60 days and a two year Driver Responsibility Fee of $500.

For a driver that is under 21 with alcohol in their car that they have not consumed, various repercussions can also result. These can include a fee of $100, two points on a driving record, an alcohol screening, the impoundment of the vehicle for 30 days, community service and the suspension of a driver's license that will be dependent on the number of offenses. A conviction can set a young individual back and it is important to fight these charges. They can continue to feel the effects of it in the future. For those that have a conviction while they are underage, even charges after they are 21 or older may be increased based on the past zero tolerance conviction. It is important to retain strong defense in your son's case and it is recommended that you start by contacting our office or filling out a free case evaluation form.

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