California Underage DUI: Charges for Juveniles and Minors Under 21

Many arrests for DUI are of drivers who are under the age of 21. These drivers are not legally allowed to drink alcohol, which means that they could be facing even more penalties than an adult driver would face. In California, DUI is defined differently for those who are not 21 years old, which means the charges are quite serious. Not only will the minor face the same penalties as an adult for DUI, but they will typically receive further penalties, which could affect the future of the individual charged.

Understanding the Zero Tolerance Underage DUI Laws in CA

For an adult in California, the blood alcohol content will need to be at least 0.08% in order to be considered guilty of a DUI. However, this is not the case for those who are underage. Because of the Zero Tolerance law in California, any alcohol in an underage driver’s system will cause them to be charged with a DUI. There are different levels of penalties based on just how much alcohol the underage driver has in their system. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

If the BAC is 0.01% or greater, the driver that is found guilty will lose their license for a year. This shows how serious the state is about zero tolerance. However, it will not count at a criminal DUI charge and the driver will not face jail time. It also means that they will not have a DUI on their record. While it is certainly troublesome to lose a license for a year, there is at least the benefit that the driver will not have to worry about having a DUI on the record.

Those who are pulled over and who have a BAC of 0.05% or higher would not receive a DUI if they were over 21. However, those who are underage will be facing a criminal charge and there will be a DUI on their record. The driver will not face time in jail, but they will lose their license for a year and they will be required to pay a $100 fine. In addition, they will have to attend a three-month DUI course, which they will have to pay for.

For underage drivers who have a BAC of 0.08% or greater, the same laws that apply to adults will apply to them. This means that they are going to be facing a range of criminal charges, as well as a substantial amount of fines and fees for court. They can also be facing up to six months in jail or juvenile custody. Additionally, they will have to pay for and take a three to nine-month DUI course. The driver’s license will be suspended, as well, and they will end up on probation, often for several years.

What About Impaired Driving?

Keep in mind that the laws for DUI are not always going to be dependent on the blood alcohol content. In those cases where the driver was driving erratically or dangerously because they had been drinking, it will be considered a DUI. In addition, the penalties for impaired driving and dangerous swerving are going to be the same as those who have a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

Charges Can Stack

Something else that is important to know regarding underage drinking and driving is that the penalties can stack on top of one another. Those who have a BAC of 0.05% and who weave across lanes, for example, are in violation of the zero-tolerance law for starters. In addition, they have more than 0.05% BAC, so they are in violation of the underage DUI laws, which will put a charge on their record and require fines and a DUI course. However, since they were also weaving, they are going to be facing impaired driving penalties, which are the same as having a BAC of 0.08% or higher. The officer that makes the arrest will charge the driver with all of the violations and stack them.

However, the arrest is only going to count as a single DUI. Still, there are some rather serious problems that can stem from this arrest. Colleges, for example, are allowed to ask a person about their criminal history when they are applying. Employers are going to ask about criminal history, as well. Having a DUI can affect your ability to get into college and to get a job.

Get Help from an Attorney

Those who are underage and facing a DUI or who have a loved one who is a minor facing a DUI should make sure they get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help in getting a deal offered for a lesser penalty or even having the charges dropped entirely in some cases. A good attorney can make a big difference.