Pennsylvania, like many other states, uses a zero-tolerance DUI law. This means that there is no tolerance for underage drivers who are also under the influence. For most drivers, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.08%, but that drops all the way to 0.02% for those who are under 21.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the penalties for breaking this law are severe. A young driver could lose their license for up to 18 months, or a year and a half, and they could spend anywhere from two days to six months behind bars. On top of that, they could be fined up to $5,000.
What if you didn’t know?
With most drunk drivers who blow a 0.08% or higher, there is the presumption that they must have known they were at least somewhat intoxicated. Even those who drink frequently should feel some level of impairment.
This argument is often used if someone claims their drink was spiked and they did not know they were consuming alcohol. While they may have consumed a spiked drink, if they have a BAC that is that high, they must have felt the effects of the alcohol. They may not have intentionally consumed it, but they still shouldn’t have gotten in the car.
At 0.02%, though, things are much different. Many people, especially young people who tend to weigh a lot less, could get up to that BAC without even consuming an entire drink. If they accidentally had a shot that was added to a drink without knowing it, they could violate the law.
For instance, say you are a female high school student. You have never drank at all and you only weigh 90 pounds. If someone puts a shot of vodka in a glass of punch or soda, it could be more than enough to get you over 0.02%. At the same time, you certainly may not recognize that you’re impaired and you may think it’s safe to drive home.
What options do you have?
You can imagine how something like this could get very complicated, and you don’t want these charges to ruin your life. Make sure you know exactly what options you have moving forward.