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Zero Tolerance Laws

It’s illegal for any person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in Michigan, so naturally driving under the influence underaged could mean serious penalties. Michigan has a set of restrictive laws known as “Zero Tolerance Laws,” which were designed to deter young people and minors from drinking and driving. These laws lower the legal BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit from .08% to .02%. Essentially, this means if underaged person is driving with any amount of bodily alcohol content in their system, they’re likely to be arrested for OWI.

Often these charges don’t result in jail time, but the defendant should expect substantial community service and fines. The most important aspect of these charges is that they could be used as prior convictions in the future. So, if you’re ever charged with OWI again it will be considered a second offense and your penalties could be enhanced as well. If you or someone you know has been charged with an under 21 OWI, then we suggest you contact Dallo Law, P.C..

Under 21 OWI Michigan Attorney in Oakland County

Dallo and his legal team at Dallo Law, P.C. have years of experience representing young people and minors from strict zero tolerance laws. He demonstrates results by utilizing his extensive knowledge, resources and vast negotiation skills so he can secure the best possible result for the case. You or your child have a lot on the line as having a criminal record could impact future employment or college opportunities, so don’t settle for less than the best. Get in contact with Dallo Law, P.C. today to set up a free consultation with a skilled and experienced defense attorney.

Set up your first consultation with J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. by calling (248) 283-7000. Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area including Waterford Township, Rochester, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Birmingham, Madison Heights, Bloomfield Township, Warren, Clinton Township, Roseville, Eastpointe, Romeo, Fraser, Utica, Sterling Heights and Novi.

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Michigan Drinking Laws for Under 21 People

To tackle the problem of teens and young adults drinking and driving, the Michigan Legislature has set of stringent alcohol laws for underaged drivers. These are known as “Zero Tolerance” laws or an “Under 21 OWI,” and violating these statutes could result in serious consequences.

Under Michigan law, a person under the age of 21 years old is not permitted:

  • To purchase or attempt to purchase any alcoholic beverage;
  • To consume or attempt to consume any alcoholic beverage;
  • To possess or attempt to possess alcoholic beverage; or
  • To have any bodily alcohol content within a person’s body resulting from the consumption of alcoholic liquor, other than consumption as part of a generally recognized religious service or ceremony.

If the person’s bodily alcohol content is above 0.02%, then the officer may take action regardless of whether the consumption was part of a generally recognized religious service or ceremony. An officer with reasonable cause to believe that a person less than 21 years of age has consumed alcoholic liquor or has any bodily alcohol content may request the person to submit to a portable breath test (PBT).

If the person under 21 years old does not consent to a PBT, the PBT shall not be administered without a court order, and the person cannot be cited for not consenting.


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What Are the Penalties for Violating Zero Tolerance Laws in Michigan?

PenaltiesFirst OffenseSecond Offense Within 7 Years
Points on License44
License Sanctions30 days restrictedSuspended 90 days
Maximum Jail TimeNone93 days
Maximum Fine Amount$250.00, plus costs$500.00, plus costs
Community Service HoursUp to 360 hoursUp to 60 days

The state of Michigan will classify a minor as an adult if they were 17 years old at the commission of the crime. However, if the defendant is 16 or younger they will instead go to juvenile court in the county where the child resides.


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Penalties for Non-Driving Alcohol Violations

Michigan law prohibits underaged young people and minors to purchase or consume any alcoholic beverage, whether they are driving or doing another activity. Similar to an underaged OWI, you will face serious consequences if you’re found guilty of being in possession of alcohol as an underaged person or minor. The penalties for non-driving alcohol violations depend on the number of prior convictions.

For the first violation, a person less than 21 years of age is responsible for a civil infraction. If a civil infraction is issued to a person 17 years of age or younger, the officer must immediately notify the parent, guardian, or custodian of the violation, via telephone or in person. Notification must be made within 48 hours of the violation.

So, if the officer is unable to make contact by the end of the shift, the notice must be sent to the parent, guardian, or custodian by first class mail. The officer must then document the way the notification was made in the narrative portion of the Incident Report. The officer’s report should not be closed until the notification is completed.

A second violation is punishable as a 30-day misdemeanor, and a third, or subsequent violation is punishable as a 60-day misdemeanor.

The officer must treat all non-driving alcohol violations as civil infractions unless the officer confirms that the person under the age of 21 years old had one or more prior convictions, juvenile adjudications, or civil infractions for violating MCL 436.1703. In some cases, the local prosecuting officials have policies that prohibit arresting the young person for a non-driving alcohol violation, even if the officer does confirm one or more prior convictions.


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When Is It Legal for Minors to Drink in Michigan?

Drinking Michigan law provides for numerous circumstances in which a person under 21 years old is not considered to be in violation of MCL 436.1703 including:

  • The young person possesses alcoholic beverages during regular working hours in the course of employment, if the employer is licensed under the Liquor Control Act or by the Liquor Control Commission and the alcoholic liquor is not possessed for his or her personal consumption. MCL 436.1703(9).
  • The young person presents himself or herself or another individual to health care facility for treatment or observation or initiating contact with officer or emergency medical personnel for medical assistance for a legitimate health care concern. MCL 436.1703(10).
  • Consuming alcoholic liquor solely for educational purposes as a requirement of a
    course offered by an accredited postsecondary educational institution if the person is
    enrolled in the course and the consumption occurs in an academic building under the
    supervision of a faculty member. MCL 436.1703(13).
  • Consumption of sacramental wine in connection with religious services at a church,
    synagogue, or temple. MCL 436.1703(14).
  • The young person is participating in an undercover operation, as described in MCL 436.1703(15).

Under Michigan law, a young person can assert affirmative defenses if the person is accused of a non-driving alcohol violation, but the alcohol was consumed in a location where it is legal to do so. Enforcement members should consider any affirmative defenses before citing any young person who can show that they were consuming alcohol in locations where it was legal for them to do so.

Keep in mind that these affirmative defenses would not apply to driving offenses. If a young person, under the age of 21 years old, operates a vehicle with any alcohol content, the young person may generally be arrested regardless of where he or she consumed the alcohol. See section 53.1.5.C


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Additional Resources

Underaged Drinking and Driving Laws in Michigan – Visit the official website for the Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to learn more about Michigan’s zero tolerance drinking and driving laws. Access the site to read the statutes for underaged drinking and driving in Michigan, statistics about teen drivers, as well as signs that a driver is under the influence.

MADD |Michigan State Office – Visit the official website for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) to peruse their site and learn more about the effects of underaged OWI drivers. Access the site to read data on underaged drinking and driving, statistics for injury and deaths, and their victim impact panel where victims can share their story.


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Under 21 DUI Attorney in Bloomfield Hills, MI

If you or someone you know has been charged with an under 21 OWI, then consult the experienced legal team at Dallo Law, P.C.. J. Dallo and his staff are dedicated to performing a swift and intense investigation and once it’s complete we will determine the best course of action for your situation. Our priority is to determine if you had any constitutional rights violated, if any errors were made during arrest, and to find inconsistencies that poke holes in the prosecution’s case. As a highly experienced and reputable attorney, J. Dallo understands that in some cases an individual’s rights may be infringed upon.

With attorney Dallo’s knowledge and thorough understanding of the law, you can be confident no stone will be unturned in his efforts to ensure positive results. In addition, attorney Dallo will work tirelessly so the judicial process is as quick and efficient as possible. Set up your first consultation for free now by calling Dallo Law, P.C. at (248) 283-7000. Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area.


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