One of the things emphasized to teens as they take driver’s ed is that having any amount of alcohol in their system while they’re behind the wheel can get them arrested for drunk driving. Every state and Washington, D.C. has a zero-tolerance law that makes it illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or less.
Here in New Jersey, the limit is 0.01% BAC or “any detectible amount.” Under both state and federal law, the minimum legal drinking age is 21.
These laws were implemented to help control the very real problem of teen drinking and driving. Despite the laws, it remains a problem. Even in 2017, 82% of drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who lost their lives in car crashes were over the legal BAC for adults – 0.08% or higher.
New Jersey law
New Jersey’s 0.01% limit means that a young driver shouldn’t risk getting behind the wheel after even a glass of wine at a family dinner or a bottle of beer at a backyard barbeque. The penalties include:
- Loss (or delay) of driving privileges for up to 90 days
- Up to 30 days of community service
- Participation in an education program for alcohol and traffic safety through a New Jersey Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IRDC)
Of course, if a DWI stems from a crash that caused injury or property damage, there are likely to be additional charges.
With the holidays around the corner and kids on winter break from high school and college, they’ll likely be exposed to alcohol – whether they know it or not. Minors have to be particularly careful about “spiked” drinks at parties. That’s why it’s always crucial for young people (and people of all ages, for that matter) not to let their drink out of sight or to drink something from a cup or glass when they didn’t see what went into it – especially if they’re going to be driving.
If your child is arrested for DWI, it’s crucial to make sure that their legal rights are protected and that they have a chance to present a defense.