When it comes to DWI laws, California has a zero-tolerance law in place. This lowers the legal limit for underage drivers. People who are under 21 have a legal limit of 0.01%. This is even lower than the limit for commercial drivers.
Why is it set so low? Essentially, the idea is that a test should not identify any alcohol in the person’s system at all. They are too young to purchase alcohol, so they should not have been drinking. If the test does determine that they’ve consumed alcohol, even if they’re far below the normal legal limit of 0.08%, they have broken the law. In this sense, even being at 0.01% is problematic.
How much do you need to drink?
It’s very important for underage drivers to know how this works because it means that they may not have to drink very much at all. This is especially true because young people tend to be physically smaller, which lowers tolerance. A 19-year-old girl who weighs 100 pounds could have half of a drink and still show at least 0.01% on a breath test.
One potential issue here is that that person may not actually feel impaired. After half of a drink, they may not be able to tell that they’ve consumed any alcohol. They may think that it’s safe to drive.
But, if they do, they could still fail a breath test and get a DWI. They must understand that they have a different legal limit than everyone else. Additionally, young drivers who are facing criminal charges may be worried about their future and what this is going to mean for them. They need to know about all of the legal options at their disposal.