Since 1988, the legal minimum drinking age in every state has been 21. Many states had lowered the drinking age in the late 1960s and early 1970s to age 18. The results were disturbing, as the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities rose.
For those under age 21 who drink and drive, it’s not about driving under the influence-it’s about any drinking and driving, period. Every state has a “zero tolerance” statute of some kind. Most states have a blood-alcohol cutoff for minors of 0.02%; any reading equal to or higher than that is a violation of the law-as opposed to the 0.08% cutoff in most states for drivers age 21 and over. To provide some context, a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 can be achieved with only one beer.
In some states, the penalties incurred might be administrative only, such as an automatic suspension of license. However, in other states, such as Pennsylvania, the punishment may be stiffer and include a mandatory minimum prison sentence. They’ll also likely be cited for consumption of and/or possession of alcohol by a minor. Repeated offenses will be met with more severe punishment and longer driver’s license suspensions.
Underage drinking and driving statistics are alarming. Nearly a third of all deaths of 15-20 year-olds are the result of motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 35 percent of those involve alcohol. Alcohol as a factor in auto accidents is twice as high percentage-wise for underage drivers as it is for those ages 21 and over.
At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we help people after they get a DUI. We also help people avoid DUI by arming you with good and useful information. For more information, ask for our free book, Defending Freedom (2nd Edition): The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania.