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An overview of underage DUI laws

Individuals under the age of 21 in Florida are subject to "zero tolerance" alcohol laws. In addition to not being allowed to possess or consume alcohol, they are not permitted to drive with a blood alcohol content higher than .02 percent. This is lower than the .08 percent legal limit that drivers 21 and over are subject to. In fact, drivers under 21 can be charged with a DUI even if they don't feel or appear to be drunk.

Zero tolerance laws were designed to combat the potential danger caused by young drivers who are intoxicated. Roughly one-third of all deaths of those between the ages of 15 and 20 occur in car accidents. Of those fatalities, about 35 percent are killed in crashes caused by alcohol.

Furthermore, setting the threshold for an underage DUI at .02 percent or lower complies with the National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995. By doing so, states are eligible for federal highway funds. It is important to note that a person under 21 with a blood alcohol content higher than .02 percent has committed a per se offense. This means that an officer would only need to show that the driver was above this limit prior to taking them into custody for a DUI.

Individuals who are charged with juvenile crimes may face a variety of penalties. For instance, an offender convicted of underage DUI could lose their license for several months. It may also be harder to get into college or obtain employment opportunities. However, an attorney may help a young person charged with a crime obtain a favorable outcome. This could be done by casting doubt on chemical test results or a police report.

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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