California has two primary laws which prohibit Underage DUI. The two laws are the “Zero tolerance” law which prohibits a person under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC level of 0.01% or higher, and the Vehicle Code 23140, which prohibits anyone under 21 from driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher. You can also be charged with standard DUI if your BAC is more than 008%. If you’re convicted of this crime, the court can pass several penalties, including the suspension of your driving license and charging you fines.
At Koenig Law Office, we are devoted to offering legal guidance to defendants facing underage DUI. Our top-tier criminal defense attorneys are available to help you with legal representation. We take pride in protecting our client’s rights and building solid defenses. We offer our services in Bakersfield, where our offices are based, and the larger California.
If you or your loved one faces underage DUI charges, contact us to discuss your case and determine efficient legal defenses. Read along to understand what underage DUI charge entails, how you can defend yourself against the charges, and some other consequences that come along with the offense.
The Two Major Laws That Prohibit Underage Driving Under The Influence In California
California has two major laws that prohibit underage DUI. The two laws are:
- Vehicle Code 23136 – Zero tolerance law
- Vehicle Code 23140 prohibits anyone under 21 from driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher.
Vehicle Code 23136 – Zero Tolerance Law
Under California Vehicle Code 23136, it’s a civil offense to drive with a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.01% or higher. The court can find you guilty of the crime even if the alcohol doesn’t cause any impairment, which means you violate the law if you have any measurable alcohol in your system.
Penalties For Violating VC 23136
Under California law, violating VC 23136 isn’t a crime. However, the state can suspend your driver’s license for one year. Furthermore, the state can also revoke your driver’s license for two to three years if you have a history of violating drunk driving laws.
What is BAC, and How is its Level Measured?
BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration. This is the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream and can be measured by a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol on your breath. The police can also measure your BAC using a blood test. Under California zero-tolerance law, your BAC cannot exceed 0.01% if you are driving a car.
Vehicle Code 23140, Prohibits Anyone Under 21 From Driving With A BAC Of 0.05% Or Higher.
According to California law, it’s an offense for you to drive with a BAC of 0.05% or higher if you’re under 21. The offense is also known as underage DUI. After the police arrest you for underage DUI, they will confirm your alcohol level with a post-arrest BAC test. The test can either be a PAS test or a DUI blood test.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test
The police will give you a PAS test once they’ve stopped you at a DUI checkpoint. They administer the test on a hand-held device like a Breathalyzer. In California, a driver can decline this test. However, you can’t decline the PAS test if you’re on probation. You can’t also refuse the test if you’re under the age of 21 and are being investigated for violating the zero-tolerance law or the underage DUI law.
If you’re under 21 or on DUI probation, the law equates your refusal to undertake the PAS test as a refusal to undertake a chemical test. Therefore, if you refuse to undertake the test, the state will suspend your driving privileges whether or not the court convicts you of DUI.
DUI Blood Test
After you’ve been arrested for DUI, the police should give you a choice between a breath DUI test and a chemical DUI test. However, the police will conduct a chemical test if you’re unconscious or dead, or you’ve been taken to a hospital where a breathalyzer isn’t available, or the police have a strong suspicion you’re driving under the influence of drugs. A chemical test, also known as a blood test, measures the amount of alcohol in your blood. A blood test is usually more accurate than a breath test.
Penalty For Driving With a BAC Level Of 0.05% Or Higher In California
Violating VC 23140 is an infraction in California. Although you’ll not face jail time when convicted of the offense, you will face the following penalties. First, the court will suspend your driver’s license for one year if you’re a first-time offender. Second, the court can also charge you a fine of $100 if you are a first-time offender. Finally, in addition to the fine, you’ll also have to undergo a mandatory alcohol education program for three months or more if you are over 18.
You Can Be Charged With Standard Or Adult DUI
Apart from the two laws, the prosecution can charge you with standard or Adult DUI even when under 21. This can happen if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. Remember, driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in California and may result in jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, or revocation. The court can also sentence you to community service hours, alcohol education classes, and an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for a while.
The court will charge your DUI as a misdemeanor if you’re a first-time offender who operates your vehicle while intoxicated when no other person was injured or killed. However, the court can charge the offense as a felony when any additional person has been seriously hurt or died due to events related to operating the car while intoxicated. In addition, if you’re a repeat offender, the court can classify the offense as a felony.
Penalties For DUI While No Person Was Injured
The standard sentence for driving with .08% or higher blood alcohol content while no person was injured or killed can include a suspension of your driving license for one year. The penalty can also include Informal probation of three to five years, a fine of $390 to $1,000, and a three- or nine-month alcohol, drug, or both alcohol and drug education program. In rare cases, the court can sentence you to a maximum of six months in jail.
Defenses You Can Use Against VC 23152 Charges
You can use various defenses against standard drunk driving charges in California. One of the most common is to argue that you were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest. You can therefore argue there was no probable cause for arresting you in the first place.
Another possible defense is to argue that there was a lack of probable cause for stopping your car because an officer only observed some minor traffic violations, which do not provide enough justification for making an arrest.
A third possible defense is to argue that there was a lack of probable cause for the arrest because officers did not follow proper procedures. For example, they may have failed to read your Miranda rights when arresting you or refused to let you contact an attorney before questioning you. Finally, it's important to note that the court must discard any evidence collected after an illegal search. Therefore, it should also result in a dismissal of criminal charges if this argument is successful.
Penalties For Refusing To Take A Breath Test
If you are an underage driver in California, refusing to take a breath test can result in more severe penalties. If the court finds you guilty of DUI, this could lead to up to 12 months license suspension and a $1,000 fine.
Can You Challenge The Suspension Of Your Driver’s License In California?
In California, you can challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. The state has a formal administrative hearing process. The process allows you to request an informal review of the decision to suspend your license if you think the state wrongfully suspended your license. You must file a petition for driving privilege restoration with the court within ten days from receiving notice of the suspension if you wish to have your license reinstated.
The petition must set forth the facts and circumstances of why you believe your license should not be suspended. The judge will then schedule a hearing on this matter within 30 days unless you show good cause for an extension.
If the hearing is not held 30 days after it has been scheduled, any suspension that was in effect will be terminated.
If you do not want your driving privileges suspended, consider taking advantage of California's formal administrative process, including requesting an informal review of the decision to suspend your license.
If you are driving with a suspended license, special laws and consequences apply. For example, if you hit someone or caused an injury while driving with a suspended license, even accidentally, you can be charged with DUI under Vehicle Code 23152 VC. You will also have to pay for any damages that result from this accident.
Can You Apply For A Restricted Driver’s License If You Lose The Administrative Hearing Process?
You can receive a restricted driver’s license in California even if the court doesn’t overrule the suspension of your driver’s license. Having a restricted driver’s license in California has many benefits. For example, if you have it, you can drive on public roads with supervision from another licensed driver who is at least 18 years old.
However, a "restricted" driver's license in CA prohibits you from carrying passengers other than immediate family members, including siblings, parents, and grandparents. With a restricted license in CA, you can’t exceed speeds of 25 miles per hour when traveling on residential streets. You can’t also drive between sunset and sunrise.
Other Charges The Prosecutors Might Charge You With In Addition To VC 23153
California Penal Code 191.5 Pc Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
California Penal Code 191.5 Pc Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, also known as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (VMWI), is a crime that occurs when you kill another person due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The court often charges this offense in cases where you didn’t intend to kill and have prior DUI convictions. If you are accused of this charge, you must employ the services of an experienced lawyer who understands California law and can defend your rights aggressively through trial if necessary.
In California, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (VMWI) is a severe offense with huge consequences, including jail time if convicted. For the prosecutors to charge you with this offense, they must prove certain elements of the crime.
The prosecution must prove you were impaired by drugs or alcohol. They must also prove you caused the death of another person while driving under the influence either intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, and the victim died as a result of the accident.
What Prosecutors Need To Prove For You To Be Convicted Of Underage DUI In California
In California, if you are under the age of 21 and have a BAC of 0.01% or higher, you can be convicted for underage DUI. First, the prosecutor needs to prove you were drinking alcohol or consuming drugs before driving. They can do this by submitting evidence of your blood, breath, and urine test results. It is also possible for prosecutors to obtain a confession from you while under arrest because they have the right to do so without an attorney present. But in some cases, this may not be a valid form of evidence.
Prosecutors need to prove that your blood alcohol content was over 0.01% at the time of arrest or within two hours after driving before they convict you for underage DUI.
When the prosecution can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt what your BAC was at the time of driving, they can convict you with underage DUI even if they cannot prove there was alcohol in your system at all. This could happen because prosecutors can use their discretion and consider age, education level, sobriety tests, or field sobriety test results when deciding whether to proceed with the case.
An attorney may help you prove that there was not enough evidence for conviction in these cases because prosecutors can convict people innocent of underage DUI if they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was intoxicated.
If you are under 21 and have been accused of underage DUI, it is essential to consult with an attorney or other professionals who may help you in court should your case go to trial.
Penalties For Underage Dui According To California Law
If your blood level is under 0.01%, the court can suspend your driver’s license for one year if you’re a first-time offender. The court can also revoke your driver’s license for two or three years if you have a history of violating drunk driving laws.
If you’re convicted of underage DUI with a BAC level of 0.05% or higher, the court can suspend your driving license for one year if you’re a first-time offender. The court can also charge you $100 if you’re a first-time offender. In addition to the fine, the court can direct you to a mandatory alcohol or drug education program if you’re 18 and above.
Defenses You Can Use For Underage DUI In California
You can fight an underage DUI charge in California in several ways. First, your ability to produce evidence showing that you weren't drunk can significantly affect the outcome of your case. So, it's essential for an attorney and anyone close to you to provide evidence that may help exonerate you.
Another possible defense is to argue that there was a lack of probable cause for the arrest because officers did not follow proper procedures. For example, they may have failed to read your Miranda rights when arresting you or refused to let you contact an attorney before questioning you. Finally, it's important to note that any evidence collected after an illegal search must be thrown out. Therefore, it should also result in a dismissal of criminal charges if this argument is successful.
DUI, or driving under the influence, is a severe offense in California and elsewhere across America. In California, driving under the influence is considered a misdemeanor if you're younger than 21 years old and it's your first offense. However, if you’re convicted of underage DUI, the court can charge you a fine of $100 if you are a first-time offender. In addition to the fine, you’ll also have to undergo a mandatory alcohol education program for three months or more if you are over 18.
If you or your loved one is accused of underage DUI, do not hesitate to contact the Koenig Law Office. At Koenig Law Office, we strive to provide quality criminal defense solutions for underage DUI suspects. Our law firm handles cases out of Bakersfield, California. For more information, contact us at 661-793-7222.