DUI for Underage Drivers
Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer
Receiving a DUI charge in the state of California can drastically impact your life, your loved ones, and your future—especially if you are underage. California's "Zero Tolerance" policy is among the toughest underage drinking laws in the United States. These laws are designed to ensure that anyone caught drinking and driving under the age of 21 faces aggressive penalties.
When am I over the limit?
In all 50 states, an individual of legal drinking age (21 or older) is considered to be driving over the legal limit if he or she possesses a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher while operating a moving vehicle. An underage driver, however, can be prosecuted for any level of alcohol found in their system—even a BAC as low as .01%.
Drinking any of the following can result in a blood alcohol content of .01%, at the very least, and will usually often bring the individual's BAC closer to .05%:
- One beer (12 ounces)
- One shot of liquor (1.25 ounces)
- One glass of wine (4 ounces)
Blood alcohol content is affected by a number of different factors. Your weight, age, and alcohol tolerance will all play into how much alcohol can translate to a high blood alcohol content. For drivers under 21, however, any detectable amount of alcohol found in their system will result in severe penalties.
What are the penalties for an underage DUI?
In the state of California, those under the age of 21 caught drinking and driving will be subject to a DUI charge under the state's strict "Zero Tolerance" laws, as well as thousands of dollars in fines, a suspended license (lasting one year), mandatory driving safety and substance abuse courses, and a number of other severe penalties.
If you are convicted of a DUI while underage, the arrest will go on your record and serve to complicate future efforts to re-obtain your driver's license or even to apply for a job. College applications require full disclosure of past DUI convictions, as well, which could severely limit a student's chance of acceptance at his or her university of choice.
Additionally, if you are under 18 at the time of your DUI arrest, you may lose your license for a year or until your 18th birthday (whichever comes last). A judge may also choose to impound your vehicle at his or her discretion.
If you are caught driving with a slightly higher BAC of .05% or more while under the age of 21, you may be charged with both an underage DUI and a regular DUI under California Vehicle Code § 23152. You may also be exposed to the possibility of arrest for driving under the influence.
All DUI convictions are handled in two separate jurisdictive bodies: the criminal court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which dole out separate punishments to the offender.