THE ZERO TOLERANCE LAW IN TEXAS ISN’T SET AT ZERO
What Is the Zero Tolerance Law in Texas?
The Texas ZERO TOLERANCE law prohibits any minor from operating a motor vehicle in public with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. This is a criminal offense known as Driving under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor (DUIA by a Minor). The legal limit of intoxication, which is typically 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC), does not apply to minors.
Background on the Zero Tolerance Policy
In the state of Texas, the police maintain a Zero Tolerance law. This means that individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in their system. It is illegal for these individuals to even consume alcohol. Interestingly enough, the “zero tolerance” policy in the state of Texas isn’t actually set at 0.00%. In some states, any underage drinker that registers with any alcohol in his or her system can be arrested.
In Texas, the underage drinker has to register at 0.02% to qualify for violation of the Zero Tolerance policy and receive charges and an arrest. This is a very low BAC that most individuals can reach with one or two beers. This means that most of the time teens face underage drinking and driving if they have any substantial alcoholic drinks recently. Yet the 0.02% buffer protects any underage individuals who may have only had a few sips of Mom’s wine at dinner.
The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 originally mandated that all states consider a 0.02% BAC for under-21 drivers. All states were required to set this limit in order to qualify for Federal Aid Highway Funds. All states eventually agreed to this rule, but many states set their limit as a per se offense. This means that the police don’t actually have to prove intoxication if the driver is above the stated limit.
Zero Tolerance in Other States
Some states decided to go even further and set their limit at 0.00% as later recommended by the federal government. Texas remained at the 0.02% limit, and continues to operate with this law in place today. This means that if you face charges for an underage DWI and prosecution on a zero-tolerance 0.00% policy standard, this may not be in accordance with the state laws.