In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level exceeding .08. However, if you are under 21 years of age, it is a crime for you to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level as low as .02 or higher. That’s right, the “zero tolerance” law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle with “any bodily alcohol content.” Presumably, if the underage driver’s blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08, the underage driver will be charged with the more serious offense of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). In the event that an underage driver is charged with OWI, a court is not permitted to dismiss the more serious charge, although a prosecutor maintains that ability in plea negotiations.
Oddly enough, the only exception to this strict rule is if the underage driver can prove that the presence of alcohol is from a “generally recognized religious service.”
Since Windsor, Ontario is just across the Detroit River, and due to the fact that the legal drinking age in Canada is 19, the zero tolerance law is problematic for underage motorists legally consuming alcoholic beverages in Canada returning to Michigan. While crossing the border, the underage motorist transforms from a legally sober driver to a legally intoxicated driver.