What does the zero tolerance law mean for a young driver? 

| Jan 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Law enforcement agencies in Michigan are always on the lookout for impaired drivers. Anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle could get pulled over for erratic driving and possibly charged if the evidence indicates chemical impairment or alcohol intoxication.

Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher could face charges for driving while drunk, but some people don’t have to have a BAC that high to get in to legal trouble. Michigan has a zero tolerance law for underage drivers. What does that mean for a teen or college student pulled over by the police?

There are penalties for young drivers even if they aren’t drunk

Zero tolerance means that you don’t need to have a BAC over the legal limit to face charges and lose your driver’s license. Instead, the presence of any alcohol that reaches 0.02% or higher is likely grounds for an arrest.

If chemical tests or a confession confirm that a driver under 21 years of age has alcohol in their bloodstream, they will likely face criminal charges. Even if the young driver was well below the legal limit for adults, they can still face serious penalties.

A first offense can carry up to $250 in fines, 360 hours of community service and restrictions on their license for 30 days. A second offense within seven years can mean maximum penalties such as a fine of $500, 60 days of community service and 93 days in jail. They will lose their license for at least 90 days, but possibly up to two years depending on their driving and criminal record.

Youthful drivers arrested for an alcohol violation and their parents may need to look at the long-term impact of a plea bargain when deciding how to address a pending charge.