Under 21 DUI
Many local parents face the difficult situations of helping a child who has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in California. Our Orange County DUI defense attorney realizes the stress these situations create. You probably have many questions about what the arrest means, including the potential consequences that the come with a conviction and what can be done to fight it.
What is the California under 21 DUI laws?
The state of California is a zero tolerance state which makes it illegal for persons under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .01 percent or higher. In addition, the law prohibits minors to be in possession of any open or closed alcohol containers in their vehicle.
In California, a person who is under the age of 21 and is caught driving with a B.A.C. at .01 percent level is considered drunk. The threshold for minors are substantially lower than those who are of the legal drinking age because of the significant number of traffic related accidents involving minors and alcohol in the state. As a result, the state has taken a tougher stance on drunk drivers who are under the age of 21 and so zero tolerance means just that, no tolerance of any alcohol or drugs found in a minor’s body system at the time of driving.
Similar to DUI cases involving adults, a person under the age of 21 who has been caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could have their driver’s license suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) for a period of time. If your loved one has been arrested for violating drunk driving laws in this state, you will want to consult with a California DUI defense attorney immediately because one of the important factors the prosecutor and judge will consider is the B.A.C. level at the time of the arrest.
For example, if a person under the age of 21 is caught driving with a B.A.C. in the range of .05 - .07 percent for the first-time, there is a chance that the judge will order him or her to pay a $100 fine and suspend their driving privileges for a period of one-year. Unlike adult related DUI offenses, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an infraction instead of a felony or misdemeanor offense, unless the B.A.C. level was at .08 percent or higher as indicated by a breath or blood test. If minors or persons under the age of 21 are arrested for violating the California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), which makes it illegal to drive with a B.A.C. of .08 percent or higher, it will be a misdemeanor offense, subjecting the person to the customary penalties an adult in a similar situation.
What are the penalties if you are convicted for a DUI?
In California, the form of punishment imposed upon underage drinkers will depend on the B.A.C. level, prior DUI arresting history, and whether or not any aggravating circumstances were present. It is always best to speak with an attorney immediately after the arrest of a person under the age of 21 to learn about the possible penalties. In general, for first time underage DUI convictions with B.A.C. between .05 and .07 the possible penalties include a $100 fine, loss of license for a year, court-ordered treatment program, or court-ordered participation in youthful drunk driving visitation program. First and second convictions within this range are usually considered infractions, meaning there are no jail or prison sentences attached to the violation. However, as the number of convictions increase for an underage driver, so does the punishment, including confinement. Also, if a person under the age of 21 is caught driving at the .08 or higher threshold level, even for the first time, he or she could face jail and other harsh penalties.
It is also important to point out that refusing to submit to chemical testing, such as breath or blood tests could also result in an automatic one-year license suspension in California. Moreover, minors, under the age of 21, whether or not they are passengers in a vehicle and are found to be in possession of alcohol in a car, could face fines up to $1,000, up to six months in a county jail, a minimum one-year license suspension, or impoundment of the vehicle for a period of 1 day up to 30 days.
What are the California DUI defenses?
As with every situation, there are ways to challenge the drunk driving charge in court to either have the charges dismissed or enter a plea with less severe penalties. Ordinarily, defendants in a California under the age of 21 DUI case have a wide range of defenses available to challenge their charge and their case is either dropped or the charges reduced.
Our attorney is happy to discuss the best legal options to fight a DUI conviction for a minor, or a person under the age of 21. Some common defenses include: law enforcement errors, faulty breathalyzer tests, and inaccurate blood test equipment. In addition, there are always potential constitutional issues implicated in these situations, such as unreasonable searches and seizures.
Orange County Underage DUI Defense at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson
Our Orange County criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson can help all those who have been charged with a DUI offense in our area, including persons under the age of 21. We understand that minors often face immense peer pressure, leading them to exercise poor judgment without understanding the consequences of their actions. Our attorney works hard to help those who make these mistakes put the incident behind them and move on without the most severe consequences that might affect their lives down the road. If your child has been arrested for driving under the influence, please get in touch with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest. We can be reached by phone at 949-622-5522 or you can send us a message online