You probably know that drunk driving is illegal and has very serious consequences, including fines, license suspension and even jail time. What many teens may not know is that drunk driving laws and penalties are different for those under the age of 21. These are commonly called “Not a Drop” laws, and they are important to understand.
How Not a Drop is Different
Regular drunk driving laws would allow the average adult to consume some alcohol before being considered legally intoxicated. This level is usually set at .08 percent blood alcohol, typically measured by breathalyzer and less frequently by an actual blood test. So long as an adult has not drunk enough to raise their blood alcohol beyond that point, then they are considered safe to drive.
Under Not a Drop laws, any level of intoxication is considered illegal. This means that a person under 21 cannot consume any amount of alcohol or have any amount of detectable blood alcohol.
Legal Penalty for Violation
A teen found in violation of Not a Drop may face several consequences. If they are a first-time offender, then their license will be suspended for 30 days and the will have to pay $20 to get it reinstated. If they are caught a second time, then their license will be suspended for 180 days and they will have to pay another $20 reinstatement fee. Further violations will probably result in the revocation of the license for a prolonged period of time and a much more complicated procedure for getting it back. The exact consequences for violation may vary by state or jurisdiction.
Beyond the law, the consequences for driving intoxicated are real and serious. Accidents involving drunk drivers kill about 28 people every day according to attorney Dave Abels. A young person is likely to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and may be impaired at much lower levels of blood alcohol concentration compared to an adult.
It is also important to note that teen drivers are subject to regular DUI laws in addition to the Not a Drop rules. If a teen driver is found with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 percent, they will face serious consequences similar to and perhaps greater than those faced by an adult. This could include arrest, jail time and loss of a driver’s license for years and the requirement to attend drug and alcohol counseling before the license is restored.
Drunk driving is a serious offense for anyone, but it is especially serious for teens. In areas that have zero-tolerance Not a Drop Laws, it is important that underage drivers never consume any alcohol. The consequences to your future, health and ability to drive are never worth it.