Some laws regarding alcohol consumption in Utah are fairly well-known. Under Utah state law, like many states, it is illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level above .08. However, this law doesn't apply to individuals under 21 years of age. In fact, under Utah's "Not a Drop" law, minors cannot drive after consuming any detectable amount of alcohol.
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A minor found driving with any traces of alcohol in his or her blood will lose driving privileges for 120 days or until the driver turns 21, whichever is longer. If a minor person is convicted of a second or subsequent offense, that person will lose driving privileges for two years or until he or she turns 21; again, whichever duration is longer.
The motivation behind the law is not difficult to understand. Drunk driving can have serious consequences, and often innocent bystanders suffer the consequences. Discouraging drinking and driving among teenagers through this law is a reasonable goal.
Are the Penalties Too Harsh?
Some say, ultimately, that this law goes too far. When driving with a BAC level below the general legal limit of .08, the drivers are not placing others on the road at risk. Some argue that a BAC of .03 or .04 does not significantly impair a driver's abilities.
Not only is the law itself severe, but by taking away a young person's driving privileges for several years, the state is preventing these individuals from participating in many activities. Without driving privileges, many young teenagers are unable to maintain employment or continue with school. For those that continue with normal activities, it places a burden on family members and loved ones.
Furthermore, the law does not provide young drivers with any opportunity to learn from their mistakes. With one bad decision, a young person may be unable to drive for years. Some argue that the punishment simply does not fit the crime.
If you or your teenager was caught driving after consuming alcohol, speaking with a criminal defense attorney knowledgeable in this area is vital. Your attorney can help mitigate potential consequences.