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Why do teens have a BAC limit of 0.02?

Having a teen driver can be a challenge. Insurance rates are usually higher, and you may worry that your teen will damage a new car or experience failure problems from an old car. You may have to set curfews or mileage limits. There is a lot to manage to ensure safety.

Another factor you should be aware of is drunk driving, especially if your young driver recently started college, where partying is notorious. In all states, drunk driving is illegal. Adults who can legally drink cannot have a BAC over 0.08%, whereas those who are underage cannot exceed 0.02%. That may seem like an arbitrary number, but the lower limit exists for good reasons.

They are underage

First, those under 21 are not supposed to be drinking alcohol at all, no matter if they are behind the wheel. Therefore, having any amount in the bloodstream at or above 0.02% shows that the teen has already broken underage drinking laws.

Impairment happens quickly

Even for adults, impairment begins to happen well before a BAC of 0.08%. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol begins to have an effect on cognitive and physical function at just 0.02%. It becomes harder to do two things at once and focus on moving targets. By 0.05%, judgment, inhibition, coordination, alertness and reaction time all decrease.

Teenagers are still developing judgment skills and lack sufficient experience in driving. Alcohol added to these factors makes teens an even greater risk on the road. In fact, the NHTSA reports that the top cause of teen death is car accidents, and intoxicated teen drivers were responsible for about 25% of collisions leading to teen fatalities.

Missouri takes underage drinking and driving seriously

Your child's young age will not protect him or her from harsh punishment. A first offense leads to an automatic 90-day license suspension. A conviction, or even an arrest, can lead to loss of school privileges, financial aid, participation in extracurricular activities or employment opportunities. A strong defense is necessary to avoid these consequences.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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