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Underage Drinking and Driving

If you are a parent of a teenager, you probably don’t question the fact that it’s illegal for drivers under 21 to drink and drive. After all, you can probably vividly recall some of the foolish things that you or your friends did when you were in high school. Most of us are guilty!

On the other hand, if you’re under 21, you might ask, “Why is the legal drinking age 21?” You might have even been bothered by the fact that if you’re 18, you’re old enough to fight for our country, but you’re not old enough to drink. What gives?

Well, there is a reason why the legal drinking age was raised to 21, and according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD), over 25,000 lives have been spared thanks to 21 being the minimum drinking age in the United States.

Since this law was enacted it has prevented a great number of tragedies, and according to MAAD, it’s reduced the number of drunk driving crashes by roughly 16 percent, and it’s kept many young drivers from making life-altering mistakes.

Teens Have Trouble Knowing When to Stop

Why are Americans forced to wait until they are 21 to drink alcohol? Because, research has proven that teenagers tend to take drinking too far, they have difficulty knowing when it’s time to stop drinking, and they binge drink more often than adults do.

Teens are also more prone to succumb to peer pressure – pressure from friends encouraging them to drink more and in rapid succession. Adults on the other hand are for the most part “over” that phase in their lives; their friends don’t push them so hard to drink like teens do.

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

California has a zero tolerance law when it comes to underage drinking and driving. That is, driving with any alcohol in your bloodstream if you are under the age of 21 (the legal drinking age).

While the legal limit for drivers 21 and over is .08%, under California's "zero tolerance" law, an individual under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI if there is any measurable alcohol in their system.

The way law enforcement detects blood alcohol concentration is by way of a chemical test (breath or blood test) – and these chemical tests have a margin of error.

An under-21 driver could blow into one of these machines after having had no alcohol and still the machine could register a slight BAC, especially if they recently swigged mouthwash containing alcohol.

The breath tests have a larger margin of error than the blood tests, but both have been shown to be flawed in the past. In recent years, news broke of errors at the Orange County Crime Lab with their BAC testing procedures.

Many individuals arrested under suspicion of DUI and submitted to a chemical test got inaccurate results back. Although the margin of error was slight, it was enough to put some individuals over the legal limit when in fact they were not.

If you are under the age of 21 and were arrested for DUI in Orange County, your license was likely automatically suspended. This is an administrative penalty through the DMV, however you also face criminal penalties.

Fight your underage DUI charges with the help of an attorney at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. today!