Underage DUI

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death among underage drivers, including teenagers and young adults. These accidents occur for various reasons. However, some of the major causes include distracted driving, inexperienced driving, and underage drinking. If law enforcement stops you on the road in California as an underage (under 21) driver, you may be subject to criminal charges and potential penalties if any amount of alcohol is detected in your system. California law imposes specific penalties for convicted DUI drivers to discourage the practice of driving under the influence. It is essential to consult with an underage DUI lawyer if you have run afoul of California DUI laws or stand accused of this offense.

You can find yourself facing significant negative consequences in the wake of a DUI charge filed against you. If this is your current plight, our team at Spolin Law P.C. can defend your rights and mount a strong defense on your behalf. To set up a free initial consultation about your case with a skilled DUI lawyer, call us today at (310) 424-5816, or send us a message through our contact form.

California’s “Zero Tolerance” Law — Vehicle Code 23136

The “zero tolerance” law in California addresses underage drivers. The criteria for violating this law are as follows:

  • You are below the age of 21
  • You are driving a motor vehicle with a minimum BAC of 0.01 percent

In effect, if you are under the age of 21 and have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system, you are in violation of this law. Under the law, BAC is measured when law enforcement gives you a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) roadside test using a breath test device. Having medicines in your system that contain alcohol can also put you in jeopardy of violating VC 23136.

Although violating this “zero tolerance” law is not charged as a crime, it can result in the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. Through the help of an experienced underage DUI attorney, you can challenge your license suspension at a California DMV hearing. If you win your hearing, your license suspension will be overturned. Alternatively, you may be able to obtain a restricted hardship license during your suspension period that allows you to drive to school, work, or family business if you do not have access to other transportation.

Penalties Related to California’s “Zero Tolerance” Law

The penalties under Vehicle Code Section 23136 apply to individuals under the age of 21 driving with a BAC of .01 percent or greater. They include:

  • One year driver’s license suspension
  • Minimum of three months attending driving under the influence education
  • One to three additional years with your license suspended for refusing to take a chemical sobriety test

Underage Driver with a BAC of .05 Percent or Higher — Vehicle Code 23140

Often referred to as “underage DUI,” this infraction applies to a person under 21 driving with a BAC of .05 percent or greater.

Penalties of Driving Underage with a BAC of .05 Percent or Higher

No jail time applies to a violation of VC 23140. Rather, the penalties include:

  • One year license suspension (first offense)
  • At least 30 days of alcohol and/or drug education
  • Mandatory alcohol education program (if you are 18 or older) for three months or longer
  • Fines of up to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within one year, and $300 for a third offense within one year

A skilled underage DUI lawyer may be able to help you mitigate the potential consequences you are facing from a conviction under VC 23136 or 23140.

Actual Impairment, or BAC of .08 Percent or Higher — Vehicle Code 23152

A standard (adult) DUI under VC 23152 is a misdemeanor and applies if:

  • Your ability to drive is impaired due to the presence of alcohol and/or drugs in your system — VC 23152(a), or
  • You were driving with a BAC of .08 percent or greater — VC 23152(b)

Penalties for Actual Impairment, or BAC of .08 Percent or Higher

Standard misdemeanor DUI penalties for first-time offenders include:

  • 96 hours minimum of jail time
  • Three to five years of probation
  • Fine of $390 to $1,000
  • Alcohol and/or drug DUI education

Standard misdemeanor DUI penalties when also causing injury include:

  • Five days to one year in jail
  • Three to five years of probation
  • Fine of $390 to $1,000
  • Payment of restitution to injured persons
  • Alcohol and/or drug DUI education

A felony DUI charge applies if you, as the underage driver, due to intoxication with alcohol or drugs, cause serious injury or death. Such a felony conviction carries a minimum sentence of four years in jail. More time may be added depending on how many individuals were injured. Your driver’s license may also be revoked.

Youthful Drunk Driver Visitation Program

California has added an additional requirement to the penalties mentioned above for underage DUI offenders. This includes participation in a program that exposes these young offenders to the traumatic human results of serious car accidents due to DUI. Young people are taken to an emergency room trauma center, most often on the weekend very late at night, in order to see injured patients recovering from surgery, on life support, and possibly those who have lost limbs or become disabled due to such DUI accidents. A visit to the morgue is also included. Finally, a discussion takes place concerning what they witnessed and why it is dangerous and unacceptable to drive under the influence.

Possible Defenses to Underage DUI Charges

A highly skilled underage DUI attorney can build a defense on your behalf to combat the charges you are facing. Some of the potential defense options that may apply to your case include:

  • You were not the driver
  • The BAC testing machine detected alcohol from another source such as cough syrup or mouthwash
  • Your BAC was rising at the time of the test; consequently, when you were driving, your BAC was lower
  • Your BAC result was within the acceptable margin of error
  • A procedural error was made by the officer
  • Your traffic stop and/or arrest was not lawful
  • Proper DUI chemical testing procedures were not followed
  • The DUI testing equipment is not calibrated properly
  • The DUI testing equipment was not functioning properly
  • You were on a low carbohydrate, high-protein diet
  • You had a medical condition such as acid reflux or GERD

A skilled attorney can develop the optimum defense strategy based on any favorable pieces of evidence and facts listed above that pertain to your case.

Get Help From an Experienced California Underage DUI Lawyer

If you or your child is facing a charge of underage DUI, you need an attorney who will stand up for your rights and fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf. At Spolin Law P.C., we have the resources and experience to effectively combat the prosecution’s case against you.

Call us today at (310) 424-5816 or use our contact form to request a free, no obligation consultation.