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Drivers under 21 subject to zero tolerance laws

Georgia residents might be aware that it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with even a trace of alcohol in their system. According to what is known as a zero tolerance law, drivers under the age of 21 may be detained on DUI charges if their blood alcohol content is .02 percent or greater. This is a significantly lower threshold than the legal limit for drivers 21 and over, which is .08 percent. In some cases, consuming a single glass of wine may be enough to reach a blood alcohol content level of .02 percent.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one-third of all deaths among people between the ages of 15 and 20 come from automobile accidents. Moreover, approximately 35 percent of all traffic fatalities among people in that age range involve alcohol. In 1995, the federal government mandated that states implement zero tolerance laws. States that ignored the mandate would not receive federal highway money. Every state complied, including Georgia.

Because of Georgia's zero tolerance laws, people under the age of 21 run the risk of facing DUI charges if they get behind the wheel after consuming even a single alcoholic drink. A DUI conviction can have long-term consequences, including an increase in car insurance premiums and a criminal record that may subvert job prospects.

On account of these potential consequences, it is imperative that people accused of violating zero tolerance laws and who are charged with underage DUI retain a criminal defense attorney. For, the attorney may work to get the charges reduced or possibly dropped altogether. In the event that the prosecution's case appears substantial and constituted by unassailable evidence, the defense attorney may have the opportunity to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors. If available, this type of agreement may allow accused individuals to enter a guilty plea to reduced charges and receive lighter penalties.

Source: Findlaw, "Underage DUI: Zero Tolerance Laws", September 03, 2014