Underage DUI in California

Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is a bad idea, no matter what age you are. However, there are increased rules and regulations around driving under the influence for minors under the age of 21, and there are multiple charges depending on the amount that the minor has consumed which corresponds to increased penalties. Of course, if a minor is found to be operating above the legal limit for an adult, a .08 BAC, then they will be charged with DUI, but since California has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving, there are additional legal issues that they will encounter.

Read more below to learn about some of the specifics surrounding underaged driving under the influence in the state of California, and contact our team now if you or your child have been charged with this violation and crime. The team at Perlmutter & Pourshalimi, Attorneys At Law has a long history of experience defending clients in a variety of DUI situations, including minor and underaged violations, and will be happy to discuss your case during an initial consultation. 

Our experience in California courts means that we understand the ways that various courts respond to underaged DUI charges, which ultimately translate to a variety of possible consequences depending on the judge presiding over the case, and more. We will work with you to navigate the complicated process through these courts to maximize your chances of a positive outcome, or at least to minimize the penalties that you will be required to face after this mistake.

What Is an Underage DUI?

No matter what age a driver in California is, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is illegal when the blood alcohol content exceeds .08. However, under the age of 21 has additional “zero tolerance” restrictions that impose additional penalties for a minor with nearly any amount of alcohol in their system. There are two different laws that restrict underage consumption of alcohol or other drugs and then operating a vehicle.

“Zero Tolerance”

Under Vehicle Code 23136, minors are subjected to a zero-tolerance law that makes it illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC in excess of .01, regardless of whether or not the minor is actually intoxicated or impaired by alcohol. 

“Notwithstanding Sections 23152 and 23153, it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or another chemical test, to drive a vehicle. However, this section shall not be a bar to prosecution under Section 23152 or 23153 or any other provision of law.”

While this violation is not usually treated as a criminal offense, it will likely result in a one-year license suspension.

BAC Over .05

In addition to the zero-tolerance rules about a minor ingesting any alcohol at all, there are additional penalties if they are found to have a BAC between .05 and .08 under Vehicle Code 23140

“(a) It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. (b) A person may be found to be in violation of subdivision (a) if the person was, at the time of driving, under the age of 21 years and under the influence of, or affected by, an alcoholic beverage regardless of whether a chemical test was made to determine that person’s blood-alcohol concentration and if the trier of fact finds that the person had consumed an alcoholic beverage and was driving a vehicle while having a concentration of 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood.”

This charge is usually treated separately from a DUI over a BAC of .08, and will result in a license suspension, fines, and likely will also require attendance to an alcohol and substance abuse education program. 

BAC Over .08

As with all drivers in California, minors are additionally subject to the full penalties of the law if they are found operating a motor vehicle in excess of .08. This crime comes with possible jail time, increased fines, license suspension, and alcohol and substance abuse education programs.

What To Do If You Or Your Child Are Arrested For Underage DUI

During an arrest, it is important to remain quiet, but cooperative. Offering additional information beyond identification information will only serve to hurt your case, so save the answers for when you have an attorney. The most important thing to do after an arrest is to contact a criminal defense and DUI attorney in California who can help you navigate this complicated process.

Our team is available now to help you get a better understanding of the situation that you are in, as well as what steps we believe are most effective to work towards the best possible outcome for your case. Our history of experience representing DUI charges and working with the California courts will be a significant asset to your defense.

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