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Zero Tolerance Law

Rhode Island’s Zero Tolerance Law

It is illegal in Rhode Island to purchase, and even to possess, alcohol if you are under the age of 21.  And although it is illegal for anyone to drive under the influence of alcohol, individuals under age 21 are prohibited from driving with even the slightest trace of alcohol in their system. In Rhode Island, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is anything below 0.08 percent for “of age” drivers, however, a BAC of 0.02 percent or less can result in a DUI if you’re under 21.

Zero Tolerance laws weren’t created to punish people.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in fatal car crashes involving 15 to 20-year-old drivers, nearly one-third are alcohol-related. Zero tolerance laws aim to combat this serious problem. Young drivers are about twice as likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash.

Underage DUIs

The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 made it a matter of law for every state in the nation to use a BAC of 0.02 percent or lower when determining if an underage driver can be charged with DUI. In addition, a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher will result in a “per se offense,” which means that intoxication doesn’t have to be proven to charge the individual with DUI.

The NHTSA conducted a study of 24 states—12 with Zero Tolerance laws and 12 without—to see if there were any noticeable differences in crashes involving young people and alcohol. The results revealed that Zero Tolerance states had 20 percent less fatal nighttime crashes involving single cars. Considering that nighttime crashes are far more likely to involve alcohol, these results are significant.

The bottom line—if you are under the age of 21, never get behind the wheel if you’ve had anything to drink. You don’t have to be drunk to get a DUI if you are underage. A DUI conviction can have long-term consequences, affecting your ability to get a job and increasing your insurance premiums, to name a few.

Contact Attorney Archambault.  He understands the anxiety individuals experience when facing criminal charges.  He takes the time to meet with his clients to explain the charges and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case.  We encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your case with Attorney Archambault.