Understanding zero tolerance in law

| Feb 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Alabama has one of the strictest underage drinking and driving laws in the country. For people under 21, any measurable alcohol in their system while driving leads to criminal charges. That’s true even if their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is under the legal limit of .08 for adults. When it comes to underage drivers who drink, Alabama takes a zero-tolerance approach.

What zero tolerance means for drivers

A zero-tolerance policy is designed to be tough and unyielding. Zero tolerance also means applying the law evenly. One reason this type of law has become popular when it comes to drunk driving is due to the high cost of that offense. Statistics show that for underage drivers, drinking and getting behind the wheel is twice as likely to be fatal as for older adults.

Before Alabama’s zero-tolerance law went into effect, all licensed drivers were held to the same standard. The threshold for charges was a BAC level of .08. Today, any measurable blood alcohol level, typically .02 at minimum, has very serious consequences. For the first offense at that level, the driver will lose their license for 30 days. If their BAC is over .08, that can be even longer.

Most seriously, the young person will have a criminal record. That can affect their life in a number of ways. For example, potential employers may become aware of it during a background check. Underage people who’ve made a mistake need effective representation in court. Otherwise, the consequences for them can be profound. They need an attorney who understands the nuances of criminal law in Alabama. An experienced lawyer may be able to get them the best possible deal.