Do you know your state’s laws regarding underage drinking? In Missouri, underage consumers of alcohol may face serious punishment simply because they possess a beverage. Even more serious consequences may arise for underage motorists facing a drunk driving charge.
Were you aware that underage drinking and driving is governed by different rules than those pertaining to older drivers? In fact, teenagers’ blood alcohol content must be below 0.02 percent in order to avoid a drunk driving allegation. The BAC that triggers consequences for an adult is 0.08 percent, which is significantly higher. All drivers under the age of 21 fall under the 0.02 percent standard, without exceptions.
What else might you need to know about underage drinking? Missouri authorities stress the fact that underage drinking using a false identification card is grounds for legal punishment. The mere possession or consumption of alcohol are also considered criminal violations in the state, as is the purchase of alcohol while under the age of 21.
Defendants in Missouri are urged to remember that all jurisdictions in the state use per se BAC laws, which make having a BAC over the legal limit a violation in itself. This characteristic of the law tends to improve conviction rates for prosecutors, but it may have a negative impact on defendants’ outcomes. These zero-tolerance laws are particularly harsh for young offenders.
What options do you have for your student charged with drunk driving? First, attorneys must question the method of analysis by which the BAC value was obtained. Minor drivers are still protected by search and seizure laws, for instance, and they are entitled to a fair analysis of their BAC for legal purposes. It is possible for those accused of underage drinking to protect their professional future by using appropriate courtroom strategies.
Source: Alcohol Policy Information System, “State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws” Sep. 03, 2014