In our state, drunk driving is called driving while intoxicated or DWI, but DWI laws are different for those underage. Maybe, a teenage drinker does not feel drunk, or even intoxicated. Maybe, that same teenage drinker is then pulled over, and blows a 0.03 blood alcohol content by the police. Maybe, that teenager now blows a sigh of relief because they know that is well below the legal BAC limit of 0.08. Not so fast. Texas is a Zero Tolerance state, which means handcuffs will soon follow for this teenage drinker.
Bluntly, in the Lone Star State, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to possess, purchase, or drink alcohol. If someone under 21 imbibes and then drives, they face penalties, if caught and convicted. The limit here is a 0.02 BAC, which means that even a glass of wine with dinner can be problematic.
The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 created these Zero Tolerance policies by tying federal highway funds to states implementing these laws. The Act, and the accompanying state provisions, make the 0.02 BAC a per se offense. Essentially, this means that the person’s ability to drive (i.e., their intoxication level) does not matter. Instead, the police need only prove the underage drinker exceeded the lower legal BAC limit.
This does not mean that those charged with Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit DWI has no options. There are defenses, and a skilled attorney may even be able to get the case dismissed. The consequences of a DWI conviction are harsh, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. The key is crafting a legal defense early and not waiting.