History Of Zero Tolerance
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16-20 year olds. Alcohol is often a factor in these fatal accidents. Minors are more at risk of dying in an accident involving a lower BAC level than any other age group.
Origin Of The Minimum Drinking Age
During the late 1960s and the early 70s, some states lowered their drinking age from 21 to 18. In a lot of these states, it was shown that there was an increase in fatal car accidents for teenagers affected by these laws.
Because of these findings, Congress set a national minimum drinking age of 21 in 1984. States that did not adopt this 21 as the minimum drinking age were at risk of losing a portion of their federal highway construction funds from the federal government. By 1988, all states had adopted this minimum drinking age.
Prevalence Of Zero Tolerance Laws
The concept for the zero tolerance law is that since it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcoholic beverages, it should also be illegal for them to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their system.
Before zero tolerance laws came into effect across the entire nation, many states' drinking and driving laws treated all drivers the same. The legal limits in these states were set as .08 or .10, regardless of the driver’s age.
Now all states have adopted a zero tolerance policy. This means that minors are in violation of the law even if they have a BAC as low as .01 or .02.
Even if someone under the age of 21 has only had one drink, they will be subject to penalties, regardless of extenuating circumstances. These DUI penalties include fines and the loss of driving privileges for six months.
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