California Under 21 DUI
The legal drinking age in California is 21 years of age. If you consume alcohol and you are under the legal drinking age, you can face penalties for underage drinking. If you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, you will face underage DUI charges.
California has several laws that make it illegal for minors to drink and drive. Many people think that because they are a minor, the penalties for underage DUI will not be as harsh. This is not true. In fact, juvenile DUI offenders can actually face more severe consequences depending on the circumstances of their case.
California's Zero Tolerance DUI Law
In California, it is a crime for a person who is under the legal drinking age to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system. According to California's Vehicle Code 23136 VC, a driver that is under the age of 21 who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01% or greater can be penalized for underage DUI. This is California's zero tolerance law and it is designed to discourage people from drinking and driving at a young age.
Unlike other DUI charges, you do not have to be proven to be intoxicated to be convicted of this offense. In fact, if you are intoxicated you will likely be charged with a more serious DUI offense. Lawmakers want to make sure that even the presence of alcohol in an underage driver will be a punishable offense.
The good news about 23136 VC offenses is that they are civil and not criminal charges. This means that a conviction will only result in license suspension and the entire process will be handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You only have ten business days to request a DMV Hearing to fight this charge, so make sure you act fast.
Under 21 Drinking and Driving Law
There are situations where a driver is under 21 and has a significant amount of alcohol in their system to warrant more than a 23136 VC charge but not enough to lead to a regular DUI charge. In order to make sure that all underage DUI offenders receive a fair punishment, another law is in place for underage drivers with BACs of .05% to .07%. In California, the legal BAC limit for adults is .08%. Under California Vehicle Code 23140 VC it is illegal for a driver under 21 to drive with a BAC of .05% to .07%.
Section 23140 VC violations are infractions and are not as serious as regular DUI charges but more serious than a violation of the zero tolerance policy. Penalties may include license suspension, fines and DUI education classes. You might also be sentenced to participate in the Youthful Drunk Driving Visitation Program where young offenders visit a busy emergency room and morgue. The more prior 23140 convictions that you have, the steeper the penalties will be.
California Juvenile DUI Laws
California Vehicle Code section 23152 VC states that any driver that is operating a vehicle with intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor offense. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater is considered intoxicated. If you are under 21 and stopped by police for driving with a BAC of .08% or more, you will face these charges in addition to violating the zero tolerance policy. Juvenile drivers who are accused of operating while under the influence of drugs will also face these charges.
There is no age limit to 23152 VC charges, underage drivers will be held accountable for their actions and can face the same penalties as adults. Penalties include:
- $390 to $1,000 in fines
- 3 to 5 years of probation
- Up to one year of incarceration
- DUI education classes
- License suspension
There are several defenses to this law and an attorney can help you work to get this charge reduced to a 23136 VC or 23140 VC violation.
Common defenses are:
- That the driver was not impaired while driving
- That the results of the sobriety test were flawed
California Juvenile DUI Attorneys
An underage DUI charge can have long term affects in many areas of your life. Do not let one bad decision hurt your future. If you or your child has been charged with a DUI under any circumstances, we can help you. There is a defense for every case and our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to successfully challenge your charges. Defenses can be anything from challenging the sobriety test result's validity to questioning if the stop was legal. Our lawyers have dedicated their careers to criminal law and know the ins and the outs of the system. Just because you were arrested, it does not mean that you are guilty, call us right now to find out what we can do for you.