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What is a Zero Tolerance Policy?

Posted by Terry A. Wapner | Jan 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

There is a policy that is followed in California along with many other states. It affects minor drivers and the policy is known as “zero tolerance.” There are many nuances to the California zero tolerance policy. If you are a minor, under 21, and have been charged with DUI in Fresno, it is best that you work with an experienced DUI defense attorney in the area who can explain the laws to you and your family.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, all teen drivers in the state of California are considered to be Provisional Licensees. This classification means that you must abide by certain types of provisions. One provision relates to who can be in the car while the teen is driving and another speaks to what hours of the day a teen is permitted to operate a vehicle.

A big provision is the fact that all teens and other drivers under the age of 21 must abide by the state's zero tolerance law. In California, this regulation states that it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or greater if you are under the age of 21. Each state can vary. Some states will arrest a minor for having anything higher than .00% BAC, while others allow up to .02% before the young driver is charged.

If you happen to be unfamiliar with what BAC is, it is simply the amount of alcohol that is in a person's blood. This amount is generally expressed as a percentage. Here's an example: a BAC of .10 means that .10% of a person's blood, by volume, is alcohol.

In California, an officer will test the minor's BAC by conducting a chemical test. A minor will have been found to be in violation of the law if:

  • His or her BAC is .01% or greater; or
  • He or she refuses to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test; or
  • He or she fails to complete the PAS test.

Under the terms of the state's zero tolerance law, a first offense will lead to suspended driving privileges of one year. If this is the minor's second offense, he will have his license revoked for two years and if this is a third offense, the license is revoked for three years.

As a side note, it is also illegal for those under 21 years of age to buy beer, wine, or hard alcohol. Further, it is illegal for those individuals to have alcohol on their person or in a car unless they are with a parent and the alcohol is full and in a sealed container.

If you violate this law, you are likely to have your car impounded for 30 days, fined for as much as $1,000, and have your license suspended for one full year.

A young person has a lot to lose if he is convicted for DUI in California. It is never okay to get behind the wheel if you are intoxicated, but not every DUI arrest is lawful. I have helped many clients with their DUI charges and I can help you, too. Contact my office today for a consultation.

About the Author

Terry A. Wapner

Terry A. Wapner confines his practice to the defense of persons accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and related crimes.


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