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How has drunk driving among teenagers changed Connecticut law?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Teenagers’ brains have yet to develop fully, meaning they do not have the same level of rationalization and critical thinking as adults. Therefore, they are more prone to risky behaviors due to poor decision-making and peer pressure. They do not yet realize the consequences of drinking and driving, so they do it despite knowing they should not.

While more adults drink and drive than teenagers, teenagers are at a higher risk for crashing when impaired behind the wheel. In fact, alcohol-related motor vehicular accidents are the number one cause of death in Connecticut for teenagers aged 15 to 19. This is why Connecticut has a “Zero-Tolerance” law for underage drinking and driving.

What is the Zero-Tolerance Law?

According to the Zero-Tolerance Law, it is illegal for a person under 21 to drive if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least 0.02%. The legal BAC limit for adults over the age of 21 is 0.08%. Connecticut severely punishes underage driving under the influence (DUI) offenders, even though the standard for legal intoxication may be lower. Minors will receive the same penalties as adults. A conviction can expose your teen to the following:

  • Jail time
  • Hefty fines
  • License suspension or revocation and loss of driving privileges
  • Community service

Other criminal offenses can arise from a DUI arrest. The prosecution can decide to charge teens for alcohol possession by a minor or for using false identification to buy alcohol. Aggravating factors like driving without a license can lead to much harsher penalties. The criminal charges will remain on the teen’s record for 10 years. If it is the minor’s first offense, they can be eligible for the alcohol education program to dismiss the charges. However, the court will not automatically offer the alcohol education program to everyone.

A DUI charge is not yet a conviction

If you are a parent and have just learned your teenager is facing DUI charges, they are not doomed to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Your teen has a right to a fair trial, and several legal options are available.