If a driver is under age 21 in California, state law (Vehicle Code 23140) makes it easier for prosecutors to convict them of DUI in Los Angeles. Instead of the typical blood alcohol content measurement of 0.08 required for a DUI conviction, California’s DUI law lowers that standard to 0.01 for someone under age 21. This law complies with federal requirements, which set the BAC standard for underage drivers to 0.02.
Tennessee used to comply with those standards as well. But a new law—actually intended to make the state’s drunk driving penalties tougher—raised the BAC standard to 0.08 for all drivers in the state. Lawmakers thought they were simply making the law consistent for all adults over age 18, but the change has threatened the state’s federal road funding.
An August 24th article in the Seattle Times reported that Tennessee law used to have different penalties for minors convicted of DUI. If someone between 18 and 20 had a BAC of 0.02 or greater, they could lose their license for a year and owe a fine of $250, but once they paid those penalties, the state would expunge the DUI conviction from their records. Adults, on the other hand, faced penalties that included 48 hours in jail and a year of probation. In addition, the conviction remained on their record.
The new Tennessee law made the penalties for 18 to 20 year olds the same as for those 21 and over. But it also set the BAC limits for anyone from 18 over to 0.08. That put them in conflict with U.S. regulations, and the federal government has warned the state that it will yank its federal highway funding on October 1 if they don’t lower the BAC limit for 18 to 20 year olds.
Since the federal government contributes $60 million to road projects in Tennessee, the governor may have to call a special session of the state legislature to either repeal the law or to change the BAC limits to comply with federal standards. State officials are hoping the federal government will give them a reprieve until the legislatures’ regular session, which starts in January 2017.
If you need to develop a sound, systematic defense to a Los Angeles DUI charge, call experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Law Group.