Individuals who are under the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol in the state of Virginia. Furthermore, they will likely be charged with DUI if they attempt to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.02. Motorists over the age of 21 are prohibited from operating a vehicle if their blood alcohol level is higher than 0.08.
Officers don’t need to prove that a minor is actually intoxicated
Typically, an officer would need to provide justification for taking an adult driver into custody for drunk driving. For instance, he or she may note that the driver had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or difficulty standing during field sobriety tests. However, if a driver is under the age of 21, authorities only need a blood, urine or Breathalyzer test reading that is higher than 0.02.
Zero-tolerance laws have made driving safer for younger motorists
A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study found that zero-tolerance laws resulted in a reduction of crashes involving drivers under the age of 21. Specifically, there was a 20% drop in nighttime single-vehicle accidents involving drivers within this age group in states where these laws were first implemented. These types of accidents are more likely to occur when a motorist is impaired.
The possible penalties for a drunk driving conviction
Minors who are charged with DUI might face penalties such as jail time, a fine and a loss of driving privileges until they turn 21. Furthermore, it may be more difficult to obtain a job, get into college or find suitable housing.
Those who are charged with DUI are encouraged to speak with an attorney about their cases. Attorneys may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed by casting doubt on evidence collected throughout the legal process. In some cases, defendants may be acquitted at the conclusion of a formal trial.