If you’re under the age of 21 in Canada, you’ve probably heard of zero tolerance laws. If you haven’t and you’ve just hit the Canadian legal drinking age of 19, you may want to brush up a bit on what zero tolerance means for you.
Zero tolerance laws are in place in certain provinces to protect underage drivers from making the mistake of drunk driving. In Ontario the basic idea behind zero tolerance is that if you’re under the age of 22, you can’t drive with any amount of alcohol in your system. That means if you’re stopped by police, you blow .01 on a breathalyzer, and you’re under the age of 22, you’ll receive penalties under the escalating sanctions for novice drivers.
Those sanctions, if you’re convicted as an underage driver, include fines, demerits on your driver’s license, a thirty-day driver’s license suspension if you’re caught drunk driving once and a ninety-day driver’s license suspension if you’re caught for a second time. You’ll also have to re-apply for the graduated licensing program if you’re caught drunk driving.
There’s a lot of people who think zero tolerance might not work for underage drivers, but if you look beyond the borders of Canada, there are other drivers who also need to comply with lower than .08 restrictions for drinking and driving. In most of the United States someone with a commercial driver’s license is not allowed to legally drive with anything higher than a .04 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). That includes vehicles like school buses or transport trucks. Residents of the United States under the age of 21 also can’t drive with higher than a .02 BAC either.
It’s one thing to tell someone under the age of 22 that they can’t be caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood stream, it’s quite another task to enforce that law or expect anyone to comply. That’s why ignition interlocks are the best choice for any teen driver or college-bound student. You won’t have to just tell someone that zero tolerance applies; if they decide to drink and drive, the car won’t start. There’s no better way to keep your teen from drinking and driving than that.