Underage DUI

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    UNDER 21 DUI

    In any city or county throughout the state of California, it is against the law for a minor to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Known as a zero tolerance policy, California Vehicle Code § 23136 prohibits any person from driving when their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is .01% or greater. For minors, the usual .08% BAC legal limit does not apply.

    In California, zero tolerance charges are handled as civil offenses rather than criminal charges. As a result, penalties will be enforced by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. If you wish to dispute the offense or license penalties, you must request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest. The Law Office of James Dunn is prepared to represent you during your hearing, and can greatly reduce your risk of suffering the maximum penalties.

    As opposed to typical DUI charges, under 21 DUI charges are not based on any assessment of a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The primary issue is that consuming any measurable amount of alcohol before driving will subject you to DUI penalties. This can even include consuming alcohol-based cough syrup prior to getting behind the wheel. Prosecution in these cases can also be based on the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, which involves a machine that was not designed to meet the standards for reliable evidence. Should you choose to work with the firm, investigations into the PAS test can be conducted to determine if a defective BAC assessment will have any bearing on your case.


    In addition to the zero tolerance policy, drivers under the age of 21 can also be subject to increased penalties if their BAC is .05% or greater. This means that you can be charged with both a violation of the zero tolerance law and the .05% law under California Vehicle Code §23140. This can result in steeper fines, mandatory drinking and driving classes and the possibility for participation in the DMV’s Youthful Drunk Driver Visitation Program.

    Underage drivers whose BAC is .08% or greater may also be found guilty of the standard misdemeanor DUI offense. Penalties for this charge will vary depending on your BAC level and prior criminal history. If convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, you can expect three to five years of probation, large fines and possible jail time. It is strongly advised that you bring your DUI charge to the attention of the Law Office of James Dunn as soon as possible after your arrest.

    In addition to these enhanced penalties, all drivers under the age of 21 who are convicted of a DUI will have their driver’s license suspended for a minimum of one year. If you do not have your license at the time of your DUI, an additional year will be added before you are eligible to receive one. Under some circumstances, a judge can be convinced to allow you to have a hardship restriction which can allow you to commute by car for certain purposes, but your reasons must be compelling. If you are over eighteen and still in high school, you may also be subject to suspension or expulsion proceedings as a result of drug or alcohol arrests.

    DUIs can pose many threats to the personal and financial well-being of underage drivers. Criminal records can adversely affect college and job applications, as well as limit a young person’s opportunities at a time when they may just be beginning to establish their own lives. As a result, the Law Office of James Dunn works tirelessly to ensure that under 21 DUI cases are worked up to their full potential, which can greatly reduce penalties and consequences. Whether you case involves enhanced penalties for high BAC levels, DUI accidents or any other additional issue, the Law Office of James Dunn is prepared to fight for you. If you or your child is under the age of 21 and has been charged with DUI, contact the firm today.

    Don’t be afraid or powerless anymore! Schedule a Free Consultation with an expert defense attorney and we will do everything we can to achieve a charge dismissal or charge reduction.
    You can reach us 24/7 at (650) 539-0809!