Protecting the Driving Privileges of Underage Drivers
Everyone on the road is expected to drive with complete control of their capacities. However, underage drivers are held to a higher standard, as it is unlawful for them to drink alcohol until they are 21 years or older. If you are stopped by law enforcement in California, and you are found with any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, you could be charged with an underage DUI. Underage DUIs are criminal charges that carry penalties like jail time, fines, and community service.
Even if it is your first offense, an underage DUI can be detrimental to your life. Educational institutions, landlords, and hiring managers are often hesitant to accept an individual with a DUI conviction on their record. Plus, getting your license suspended can impact your ability to get to work or school. If you are facing underage DUI charges, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced legal defense team immediately.
At the DUI Defense Group, our attorneys have years of experience representing clients in DUI cases. We understand how underage DUI cases go, and we know exactly what the prosecution needs to establish to secure a conviction. We are confident that with our legal defense strategies, we can reduce or remove the penalties you are facing. For a free consultation, call us today at 866-927-3295.
What is California’s Zero Tolerance Law?
In California, the “zero tolerance” law addresses underage drinking and driving. If you are below the age of 21 and are found operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01% or higher, you can be charged with a DUI. In essence, if you are underage and have any amount of alcohol in your body while driving, you are violating the zero-tolerance law in California.
Your BAC is measured by a law enforcement officer, typically after stopping you for suspected drinking and driving. A breath test device is used to measure your blood alcohol content. If your BAC is higher than 0.01%, you will likely be charged with an underage DUI.
Violating the zero-tolerance law leads to an automatic license suspension of one year. However, with help from our team, you can challenge this suspension in a DMV hearing to get the suspension overturned. You can also obtain a restricted license to continue driving to and from work or school.
What Are the Potential Penalties for an Underage DUI?
The penalties for an underage DUI depend on your blood alcohol content and the nature of your charges. Generally, a BAC below 0.08% carries no jail time but comes with fines and other consequences.
Below are the potential penalties for an underage DUI:
BAC 0.01% to 0.04%
A BAC between 0.01% and 0.04% violates California’s zero-tolerance law. Penalties include one year of a driver’s license suspension, three months of driving under the influence education, and one to three additional years of license suspension for refusing a chemical sobriety test.
BAC 0.05% to 0.07%
A BAC between 0.05% and 0.07% is commonly referred to as an underage DUI. It carries penalties of one year of a license suspension, 30 days of drug and alcohol education, and fines of up to $300.
BAC 0.08% or Higher
A BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered a standard DUI and carries standard penalties. If your BAC is 0.08% or higher at the time of your arrest, you could face three to five years of probation, 96 hours minimum jail time, fines of up to $1,000, and mandatory drug or alcohol DUI education.
DUI Causing Injury
DUIs that cause injury or death are almost always considered standard DUIs. Penalties include three to five years of probation, up to one year in jail, alcohol or drug education, and payment of restitution to the injured parties. You can also face fines of up to $1,000.
What Are the Most Common Defenses Against an Underage DUI?
While underage DUI charges can be frightening, there are ways to defend against them. Our team will work with you to gather facts about your case before determining the right legal strategy. We are confident that we can reduce or even remove the penalties you are facing for underage drinking and driving.
Below are the most common defenses against an underage DUI:
- The breath test detected alcohol from another source, like mouthwash or cough syrup
- You were not the driver of the vehicle
- Your traffic stop or arrest was not lawful
- Your BAC was rising at the time of the test, and when you were driving, it was lower
- Officers made a procedural error
- Your BAC result was within the margin of error
- The DUI testing equipment was not calibrated
- You were on a low-carb, high-protein diet
- You have a medical condition that can affect DUI testing results, like GERD
How Can a DUI Attorney Help Me?
Getting a DUI while underage can affect your life in many ways. Your plans to get a job or go to college could be impacted, as having a criminal record follows you around forever. By working with a DUI attorney on our team, you can create a legal defense strategy to reduce or remove the penalties you are facing.
At the DUI Defense Group, we focus solely on DUI and traffic-related charges. We are confident that we can help you avoid the consequences of an underage DUI. For more information about our services and to receive a free consultation, contact our law firm today by calling 866-927-3295.