California has a zero-tolerance law when it comes to underage drivers operating vehicles when they have even a trace of alcohol in their systems, and that trace is 0.01% blood alcohol content (BAC), which could equate to a sip of wine or beer. For adults over the age of 21, the legal limit is a 0.08% BAC or higher. The law is outlined in California Vehicle Code 23136: Minors driving with a BAC over 0.01% but under 0.05% will not be charged with Underage DUI, but it is a civil offense. Minors driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher are subject to harsher penalties, including an underage DUI charge, as outlined in Vehicle Code 23140.
In California, a DUI arrest will initiate criminal court prosecution, as well as administrative proceedings taken by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is important to note that even if an offender is not criminally convicted, they may still be held accountable with administrative penalties from the DMV.
Criminal and administrative penalties for conviction of an underage DUI include:
- Driver’s license suspension: For underage offenders, the driver’s license will be suspended for a one-year period. Your driver’s license will be confiscated by the police officer and sent to the DMV. The accused offender will then be issued a temporary license, which is good for 30 days, until suspension takes effect. The loophole for this is if you file a request with the DMV to contest your suspension, within 10 days of the 30-day period. You may be able to get a suspended driver’s license partially reinstated with a restricted hardship license, after violating Vehicle Code 23136, if you qualify under certain criteria.
- Fines: First-time offenders are subject to a $250 fine if BAC was under 0.05%. Underage drivers with a BAC of 0.05% or greater face a fine up to $300. To reinstate your license, you’ll have to pay a $100 reissue fee to the DMV, file for proof of financial responsibility (known as SR-22 insurance), and maintain proof of your financial responsibility for 3 years.
- Mandatory Alcohol Education Program: Drivers over the age of 18 but under 21 must complete an alcohol education program to have their driver’s license reinstated. These courses are 3 months or longer.
Has Your Child Been Charged with DUI in California? Call Santa Rosa Defense Attorney Evan E. Zelig.
Underage DUIs are serious. If your child was arrested for this charge, you should immediately seek representation from a skilled juvenile criminal defense attorney in Santa Rosa to protect their rights and freedom.
Contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. for a free consultation at (707) 418-5352 today or contact us online for a swift response.