One of the most common things that people know about driving laws or operating under the influence (OUI) charges is that the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for a driver is 0.08%. This means that most adults can have a drink or perhaps two without exceeding the limit. Someone who has a glass of wine with dinner and then drives home may still be well under that legal limit that is automatically equated with drunk driving.

However, it is important for underage drinkers — those under 21 years of age — to know that the legal limit is not 0.08% for them. Under Massachusetts law, it is 0.02%. Most people will easily hit or exceed that level after a single drink or even part of a drink. 

The intent here is clear. Underage drinking is illegal. Therefore, any amount of alcohol that shows up on a test for a driver between 16 and 20 years of age is more than they could have legally consumed. Maybe they just had half of a beer that someone offered them. It doesn’t matter. They were not supposed to drink and drive, but they were also not supposed to drink in the first place. This is why they can get OUI charges at a lower level. 

If you are an underage driver, it’s important to know the difference. Never assume that you can still legally drive just because an adult can. You may not even feel intoxicated at all at 0.02%, but you could still face charges as if you were. If this happens to you, then you need to know what legal steps to take.