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Zero-tolerance DUI laws applied to drivers under 21

It is common knowledge that the "legal limit" for blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent. What you may not know is that there is no such thing as a "legal limit" for drivers too young to legally consume alcohol. Drivers who are under 21 years of age are subject to "zero tolerance" laws. This means that if you are under 21 and you are pulled over by a police officer who determines that you have a "BAC" above 0.00 percent then you may be facing a driving under the influence charge.

One reason for zero-tolerance laws is that the government realized that a major killer of teenagers and young adults were car crashes involving alcohol. In fact, after the implementation of zero-tolerance laws in some states, the federal government found statistical evidence indicating the new limitations were related to a decline in single-car nighttime fatal crashes involving drivers who were younger than 21. This means that it is unlikely these legal limits are going to be removed any time soon.

Understandably, often zero-tolerance charges are levied against university students. It is the perfect combination of youth, freedom and easy access to alcohol that can lead to a single mistake that follows you for the rest of your life.

Most courts, especially for first-time offenders, will usually work with students to avoid serious felony charges or jail time that may interrupt their studies. However, this all depends on the circumstances of your arrest. For example, if you arrested for a second offense, you will probably face harsher punishments. Regardless, judges and prosecutors generally know that a single mistake does not have to define your life. However, it is still probably a good idea to contact a defense attorney to safeguard your rights.

If you are facing a DUI charge and you are underage, there are plenty of options to avoid any serious consequences. However, it is probably a good idea to consult with a criminal defense to organize your strategy. Regardless, the best option is to designate a driver and avoid the risk entirely.

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The Naperville, Illinois, law firm of Jim Ryan & Associates is available to serve people throughout the Chicago metropolitan area with a focus in DuPage County, the western suburbs and Naperville, in communities such Downers Grove, Wheaton, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Addison, Itasca, Warrenville, Woodridge, Oswego, Yorkville, Roselle, Aurora and Elmhurst. We also represent students and parents of students who attend any of the area schools and universities, including Naperville North High School, Naperville Central High School, Neuqua Valley High School, Waubonsie Valley and North Central College.

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