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Zero tolerance drunk driving law in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a zero tolerance law designed to prevent drunk driving by motorists under the age of 21. While a driver aged 21 or over is considered intoxicated when his or her blood alcohol level is .08 percent or higher, the allowable level for younger drivers is .02 percent. There are two main reasons for this difference.

The first reason is that it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, so a young person with a blood alcohol level over .02 percent would be breaking the law even if they did not get behind the wheel. Moreover, the limit is .02 percent and not zero because some products such as mouthwash contain trace amounts of alcohol. The second reason for a zero tolerance approach is the disproportionately high number of young people who are killed or injured on the roads each year because they were driving while impaired by either drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol was involved in more than a third of all traffic accident fatalities among those aged between 15 and 21, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research indicates that drivers under the age of 21 are twice as likely to be involved in a drunk driving incident than older drivers. However, NHTSA has found that adopting a zero tolerance approach to the problem could lower fatality rates among young drivers by as much as 20 percent.

Young drivers may face consequences that go beyond criminal sanctions if they are convicted on drunk driving charges. College admission or employment applications could be viewed negatively if such a conviction appears on a routine background check, and auto insurance rates may become exorbitant. A criminal defense attorney could question the results of a breath test or arrange a plea deal to possibly get charges reduced or dropped.

Source: Findlaw, "Underage DUI: Zero Tolerance Laws," Nov. 5, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "Oklahoma DUI Laws", November 04, 2014

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