Drinking and driving is taken very seriously be the state of California. A DUI conviction can bring fines, loss or restriction of driving privileges, court-ordered alcohol and substance abuse counseling, the installation of an ignition interlock device in one’s vehicle, community service, reputational damage, and even jail time – and that is if you are 21 years of age or older. For individuals under the age of 21 charged with DUI in California, the consequences can be even worse. This reason for this is obvious: underage persons are prohibited from consuming any alcohol. As such, the state does not look kindly on underage persons who elect to both consume alcohol AND drive. Individuals charged with the serious offense of underage DUI should speak with a skilled and experience California DUI attorney about protecting their rights.
0.08% for Adults, 0.01% for Minors
DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, is gauged in terms of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). For adults, the threshold between permissible and impermissible alcohol content is 0.08%. For minors, on other hand, any detectable alcohol in the system is grounds for a charge of DUI. Thus, even a 0.01% BAC test result may result in a DUI charge. This is the case even if the influence of alcohol did not actually result in any impairment. This strict approach reflects California’s “Zero Tolerance” policy concerning underage drinking and driving.
What to Expect From a Conviction for Underage DUI in California
Even for a low level BAC test result in which there was no impairment, accident, criminal history, or other aggravating factor, an underage DUI may result in a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a BAC reading consistent with drunkenness and/or the existence of previous traffic and other driving violations, penalties may include fines, court-ordered DUI education, three to five years of probation, and even jail time. The more aggravating factors present, the more penalties. Aggravating factors include the presence of an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, the presence of passengers in the vehicle, and more.
Depending on the circumstances, consequences may come from both the California Department of Motor Vehicles and one of the state’s criminal courts. With regard to a driver’s license suspension, the DMV is the relevant agency. For other penalties, such as fines, jail time, and court-ordered DUI education, the court is the relevant state body.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged With Underage DUI in California
In addition to the criminal penalties, conviction for an underage DUI in California must be reported on college and job applications. This requirement may be the worst punishment of all – the reputational and potential occupational and educational damage – it can snowball into a lifetime of problems. For this reason and for every other reason stated above, it is imperative that you protect your rights when facing an underage DUI charge in California. For your rights and for your future, consult with a skilled and experienced California DUI attorney.