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Understanding Illinois zero tolerance laws

According to the Illinois State Police (ISP), just 10 percent of licensed drivers are under 21. However, 17 percent of fatal alcohol-related crashes involve these underage drivers.

In an effort to protect both young drivers and those who share the road with them, Illinois, like other states, has zero tolerance laws for underage drivers. As the term implies, it's illegal for someone under 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system -- a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 percent or more.

As with DUI convictions for adults, the potential penalties increase with each instance for underage drunk drivers. These penalties include jail time, fines and the loss of driving privileges. The length of the driver's license suspension is also greater if a driver who's been pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving refuses to take a sobriety test like a Breathalyzer test.

There are a couple of exceptions to the state's zero tolerance laws. One is for underage drivers who consume alcohol in a religious ceremony or celebration. Another is for those who have taken medication that contains alcohol (assuming they took only the prescribed amount).

A DUI conviction can impact a young person's chances of getting into college, their ability to get a scholarship (or keep one) and even their ability to pursue the career of their choice. That's why it's essential for young people, as well as their parents, to take a DUI charge seriously. Don't try to deal with the justice system on your own. Experienced Illinois DUI attorneys can work to fight the charge, if possible, or to mitigate the consequences on a young person's future.

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