Anyone who is caught driving while intoxicated faces harsh consequences, but those who are under 21 face additional penalties. What you need to know about California’s unique laws and punishments for underage DUI is provided below.
Policy of zero tolerance
There is no legal BAC limit for young drivers, although those who are 21 or older may lawfully drive with some alcohol in their system. Even if you’re driving, balance, reflexes, etc. are not affected in any way, you could still be charged with a DUI if there is any quantity of detectable alcohol in your system at all.
If you are found guilty of underage DUI, your driver’s license will immediately be suspended for a year as a punishment. Again, even if you are not actually inebriated, this can still occur. If your BAC is high, you could also be subject to further punishments, like
- $50 to $100 in fines
- Compulsory DUI training
- Three to five years of DUI probationary term in jail
You could also need to have an interlock ignition device fitted in your automobile, depending on the county where your conviction happens.
Possible multiple charges
Underage DUI is governed by a number of separate Vehicle Code sections, and you will probably be charged with a violation of each one that applies to your case. For instance, if you drive while intoxicated and have alcohol in the vehicle, you may be held accountable for the following:
- Underage driving with a BAC of .01% or more is prohibited per vehicle code 23136. (Zero Tolerance law)
- Underage driving with a BAC of .05% or higher is prohibited by vehicle code 23140.
- Driving while truly intoxicated or drugged (at any age) is prohibited by the law (Vehicle Code 23152a).
- Driving (at any age) with a BAC of .08% or higher is prohibited per vehicle code 23152b.
- Underage alcohol possession in a vehicle is prohibited by Vehicle Code 23224.
The good news is that even if you are found guilty under multiple Vehicle Code provisions, your record will only show one DUI conviction. An alcohol possession conviction, however, will always be treated separately.
Defending against a dui charge
Underage DUI cases might benefit from many of the same DUI defense tactics used in adult DUI trials. The claim that the alcohol found on your breath came from a mouthwash or medication is an exception. Due to the fact that the Zero Tolerance rule does not distinguish between different types of alcohol, this is ineffective for defending against charges under it.
If you are pulled over for a DUI, your best course of action is to consent to a breathalyzer test but respectfully decline to take any field sobriety tests. These tests would only serve to show that you are in fact intoxicated and would support the filing of a separate DUI case in addition to the Zero Tolerance charge.
For assistance defending your criminal charges and your drivers license suspension, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney like Chambers Law Firm as soon as possible. Just because you failed a breathalyzer test doesn’t mean you should give up. Breathalyzer test results can be successfully appealed. Call us now at 714-760-4088 for a free legal consultation.