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Underage DUI

Teen crashed after DUI

What Happens When You Receive a DUI Under the Age of 21?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with significant consequences. A DUI charge can result in a person having their license suspended for an extended period, paying hefty fines, or even spending some time in jail. Receiving a DUI under the age of 21 in California can lead to severe penalties because of the state’s zero tolerance laws for people under the legal drinking age.

The penalties that a driver faces depend on their blood alcohol content (BAC) when they are pulled over. Those who have a BAC of 0.01 to 0.05 face less severe penalties than those who have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08, while those who have a BAC of 0.08 or higher face the most severe penalties.

BAC of 0.01 to 0.05: Violation of California’s Zero Tolerance Law

California’s zero tolerance policy prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01. The 0.01 BAC threshold was set to deter underage people from driving while intoxicated. If an underage person’s BAC is over 0.01, the zero tolerance law requires the person to be charged with a DUI even if the result was due to medication the person took.

Receiving a DUI under the age of 21 will result in the immediate loss of an underage driver’s license. If a person under 21 is pulled over by a police officer, submitted to a breath test, and their BAC is found to be higher than 0.01, they can have their license suspended for up to a year. If the person’s BAC is higher than 0.01 but lower than 0.05, there penalties may be less damaging than if they are found with a BAC of over 0.05%. The officer that pulled the driver over will give the driver a suspension/revocation order as well as a temporary driver license. The temporary license allows the driver to drive legally for 30 days.

After the 30 days are over, the license suspension will go into effect unless the driver requests an Administrative Suspension Hearing. If they do request a hearing, it will be carried out by the DMV instead of a court.

BAC of 0.05 or Higher: Violation of Underage DUI Law

If a driver is under 21 and has a BAC of 0.05 or higher, they will be in violation of the state’s underage DUI law, which is different from the zero tolerance law. Since violating California’s underage DUI law is considered an infraction and not a crime, the driver will not receive any jail time if they are found guilty.

The driver receiving a DUI under the age of 21 will be subject to the following penalties:

  • Suspension of their license
  • Required participation in DUI school
  • A $100 fine for first-time offenders
  • Impoundment of the driver’s vehicle if they have a prior offense

BAC of 0.08 or Higher: Standard DUI Charges

For drivers older than 21, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. A driver receiving a DUI under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is subject to the same terms as a driver over 21. A first-time offender will face penalties that include:

  • One-year license suspension
  • Up to five years of probation
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Attendance at a DUI school
  • Six months or less in jail

It is recommended that people under 21 who are charged with a DUI in California hire a lawyer to help them fight the charges and protect their legal rights. Contact the Law Offices of Chad Maddox for a free consultation with an Orange County DUI Attorney who has been practicing DUI law for over 15 years.