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Can a spiked drink lead to OWI charges?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2023 | DUI/OWI

You can be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) if you drive a vehicle after you have consumed alcohol. That said, with the legal limit set to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, many people can have one or even two drinks before they hit this line. That doesn’t mean you won’t face charges if you are under the legal limit, as you absolutely can, but it is less common and the police would have to prove that you were impaired.

As such, one spiked drink isn’t going to be a big deal for most drivers. If an adult has not had any other alcohol and they are inadvertently given a drink with one shot in it, their blood alcohol concentration will likely not be anywhere close to 0.08%. They will not feel impaired and they will probably not even be pulled over. But there’s one group of people who need to be especially wary about spiked drinks.

Underage drivers

A person cannot drink legally until they are 21 years old, but they can drive legally at 16. As such, states have created zero-tolerance drunk driving laws. These state that a very small amount of alcohol (0.02%) can be detected and someone who is under 21 can still be given OWI charges because they never should’ve consumed alcohol, to begin with.

For example, a 16-year-old may not even know that they have consumed a spiked drink. But if they get pulled over for speeding and are given a breath test, they could still fail that test and be charged as if they were impaired. If you are a parent of a teen who is in this situation, it’s very important to understand all of your defense options.