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Minors and California DUIs: What to Know


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minors and driving while drinking in California

Minors and a California DUI, or driving under the influence, is a serious issue in California, and harsh penalties can follow if the minor is convicted. While adults are subject to a number of penalties for DUI, minors are under stricter guidelines when it comes to drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol concentration, BAC, for adults in California is 0.08%. Minors are not allowed to consume alcohol at all under the law, therefore, they are not allowed to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. If a minor is arrested for DUI they could face extensive charges and a conviction could impact the rest of their life. It is best to seek legal guidance to vigorously fight DUI charges and obtain the best possible resolution. 

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

California has a “Zero Tolerance” law for minors. California Vehicle Code 23136 is the law that governs drinking and driving for minors. The law prohibits drivers under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC of 0.01%. It is important to note that the law applies to any minor behind the wheel, whether you were driving erratically or not. California Vehicle Code 23140 makes it illegal for a minor to drive with a BAC of 0.05% or higher. This is commonly known as underage DUI. This offense occurs after the BAC is determined using a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS), such as a breathalyzer and is confirmed with a post-arrest blood test.

Minors and California “Adult” DUI

In addition to no tolerance charges, a minor may also be charged with standard DUI. This can happen when the minor’s BAC level is higher than the adult standard of 0.08% BAC or when the driver demonstrates impaired driving. A minor charged with driving with a BAC of 0.01% up to 0.05% is considered a minor offense. It is typically the equivalent of a traffic infraction and therefore the penalties are generally lower. The penalties may include suspension of driver’s license for up to a year and fines of up to $100 for the first offense. 

Adult DUI is covered by California Vehicle Code 23152 and is considered a misdemeanor. The penalties for a DUI conviction vary based on various factors including whether this is the first offense and whether there were injuries as a result. The penalties may include suspension of driver’s license for a year, three to five years of probation, fines of up to $1,000, and participation in an alcohol education program. In some circumstances, the penalties could include a jail sentence. 

Additional DUI-Related Offenses in Ventura County

DUI charges are often accompanied by other related charges. For instance, a minor could be charged with underage possession of alcohol if it is found in the vehicle. If marijuana is found, the minor could also be charged with driving in possession of marijuana or driving while smoking marijuana. It is important to know that a passenger in the vehicle could be charged if found to be smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol. 

Strong DUI Defense for Minors in Ventura County

If your minor child was charged with DUI it is necessary to get legal help immediately. You do not want the offense to cause irreparable harm to your child just as they are becoming an adult. At Strongest Defense, we are experienced in providing the strongest DUI defense for minors and others. Contact Strongest Defense online or by phone at (805) 477-0070 for a case review.