Underage DUI

Los Angeles Underage DUI Lawyer

Underage DUI California

California takes a tough stance when it comes to enforcing laws for driving under the influence (DUI), sometimes known as driving while intoxicated (DWI). As such, a “zero tolerance” policy applies to cases where drivers are under the legal drinking age of 21. This means that if you are under 21 years of age and have any amount of alcohol in your system, you can face serious penalties, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is below the legal DUI limit of .08%.

Have questions about underage DUI charges in Los Angeles County? Call Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a FREE case review.

California’s “Zero Tolerance” Policy

California enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving. According to California VC § 23136, this means you can face penalties for driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system (.01% or above).

Unlike DUI laws for drivers of drinking age, there is no legal requirement to prove that an underage driver was impaired or legally drunk. The law only considers whether an underage driver actually had any amount of alcohol in their system while driving.

The no alcohol threshold makes underage drivers vulnerable to unique issues. For example, mouthwash and cough syrup have enough alcohol to be detected by a BAC test. Although the zero-tolerance policy may make cases difficult, an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can create effective defense strategies to protect you from serious penalties.

Underage DUI Penalties

Penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will vary depending on the unique facts of a case, a defendant’s BAC level, and their criminal history. Underage drivers charged with DUI can face criminal consequences and penalties that affect their driving privileges.

California underage DUI laws include the following:

Zero Tolerance (Vehicle Code § 23136)

VC 23136 is California’s zero-tolerance law and applies in any case where a driver under the age of 21 has a BAC level of .01 or more. California Vehicle Code § 23136 is considered an infraction and is penalized by a one-year driver’s license suspension from the DMV.

.05 BAC or Higher (Vehicle Code § 23140)

A driver under the age of 21 with a BAC between .05 and .07 may face charges under California VC § 23140. This offense is an infraction and will not result in jail time. Instead, drivers may face a one-year driver’s license suspension, fines, and alcohol education programs.

.08 BAC or Higher (Vehicle Code § 23152)

Underage drivers with a BAC level of .08 or greater or who drive under the influence of drugs can be charged with a standard DUI. When this is the case, you will face misdemeanor charges and both criminal and DMV penalties. Penalties may include driver’s license suspension, fines, probation, up to 6 months in jail, and alcohol education programs, among others. Penalties can be enhanced if there are prior convictions.

Possession of Alcohol by Person Under 21 (Vehicle Code § 23224)

California law prohibits drivers under 21 from carrying alcohol inside of a vehicle unless the alcohol container is full, unopened, and sealed and the driver is accompanied by a parent or adult, transporting the alcohol for a parent or adult, or carrying it as part of work at an establishment that has a liquor license. Although it does not involve driving under the influence, California VC § 23224 can result in vehicle impoundment, fines up to $1,000, and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

Other Consequences of an Underage DUI

Aside from the criminal and administrative penalties associated with an underage DUI in California, here are several other consequences a convicted driver may face:

  • Criminal Record: A DUI conviction results in a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences for employment, education, and other opportunities.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: A DUI conviction can lead to significantly higher car insurance rates for the offender, or even difficulty obtaining insurance coverage.
  • Loss of Scholarships or Financial Aid: Some educational institutions have policies that may revoke scholarships or financial aid for students convicted of DUI.
  • Negative Impact on Future Opportunities: A DUI conviction can have a lasting impact on an underage driver's future opportunities, including employment prospects and educational opportunities.
  • Civil Lawsuits: If the underage DUI offense resulted in property damage, injury, or death, the offender may face civil lawsuits from victims seeking compensation for damages.
  • Professional Consequences: A DUI conviction can have professional consequences, particularly for individuals in certain fields such as law enforcement, healthcare, or transportation, where a clean driving record is often required for employment.
  • Negative Social Stigma: Beyond the legal and practical consequences, a DUI conviction can carry a significant social stigma, affecting relationships with family, friends, and peers.

Questions about your case? Call Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners today!

If you or your child has been arrested for an underage DUI offense, taking immediate action is crucial. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer from our firm is prepared to help you learn more about your case and how we can fight to protect your driving privileges, rights, and future.

Here are some benefits of enlisting our legal expertise:

  • Legal Knowledge and Experience: We bring extensive knowledge of California DUI laws and years of experience handling similar cases. Our expertise allows us to navigate the legal system efficiently, ensuring the best possible outcome for your child.
  • Strategic Defense Planning: We'll work closely with you and your child to develop a strategic defense plan tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. This may involve analyzing evidence, identifying potential defenses, and determining the most effective legal strategies.
  • Protection of Rights: Your child's rights are our top priority. We will ensure that their rights are protected throughout the legal process, including during interactions with law enforcement, court appearances, and negotiations with prosecutors.
  • Minimization of Penalties: Our goal is to minimize the potential consequences of an underage DUI conviction for your child. We'll strive to negotiate reduced charges, alternative sentencing options, or diversion programs whenever possible, helping to mitigate the impact on their future.
  • Emotional Support and Guidance: Dealing with a DUI charge can be stressful and overwhelming for both you and your child. We'll provide compassionate support and guidance every step of the way, offering reassurance and clarity during what can be a difficult time.

Call today to discuss your case during a FREE and confidential case review.

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