Most drivers in North Dakota face drunk driving charges when toxicology tests reveal that they were behind the wheel with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or higher, but the state has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving. This means that motorists under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI even if they have BACs as low as 0.02.
Lawmakers pass zero-tolerance laws to ensure that certain types of conduct are punished regardless of extenuating circumstances or intent. One of the reasons that state legislatures around the country chose to make underage impaired driving a zero-tolerance issue is because accident statistics reveal that drivers under the age of 21 who get behind the wheel after drinking are about twice as likely to be involved in a deadly accident as older motorists who drive after consuming alcohol. This is also one of the reasons why Congress raised the minimum drinking age to 21 in 1984.
Opposition from civil rights groups
Civil rights groups have opposed zero-tolerance laws because they object to behavior being punished without any consideration being given to the facts or circumstances. All 50 states now have zero-tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving, and many of them have similar policies for open containers of alcohol in vehicles. Under this kind of zero-tolerance law, a driver could be charged with DUI if a passenger was drinking in their vehicle. Zero-tolerance laws have also been passed to punish individuals who bring guns or illegal drugs into schools.
Negotiating with prosecutors
Prosecutors might be willing to reduce or even drop criminal charges when not doing so would result in an unjust outcome. If you are charged with DUI under North Dakota’s zero-tolerance law, an experienced criminal defense attorney may remind the prosecutor involved that a conviction could make it more difficult for you to get into college, find a job or rent an apartment.