California’s laws are meant to be harsh with regard to driving under the influence. Underage DUIs are not uncommon, and the state takes them seriously. Violation of California’s Vehicle Code 23140 is considered an infraction, but the consequences can be severe.
The code strictly deals with underage DUIs with nominal levels of blood alcohol. Here is what drivers under the age of 21 and their parents or legal guardians need to know about underage drinking and driving.
Is There a Different BAC Level for Young Drivers?
For adult drivers in California, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is up to 0.08%. For drivers under 21 years of age, the BAC is lowered to 0.05% or below. It does not take much alcohol to reach a 0.05% BAC, but just how much can depend on the individual’s weight, the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, and the amount of hydration in the body.
According to Stanford University’s Office of Substance Use Programs Education & Resources, the human body “can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol every hour,” regardless of how much is consumed. It may vary quite a bit, in part, by someone’s “liver size and body mass.” Other research has shown that female adults and minors tend to react more quickly to alcohol consumption than males.
The Consequences of Violating VC §23140
Following an arrest for an underage DUI, the BAC level will generally be confirmed by a DUI breath test or a DUI blood test. If someone under the age of 21 is found driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.05% or higher, that individual is in violation of CA Vehicle Code 23140, according to California Legislative Information.
California courts act swiftly when it comes to DUI-related issues. Within 10 days, the findings will become a matter of local court record. As such, they also become a matter of public record.
Penalties for a First Offense of VC §23140
For someone under the age of 21 found driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.05% or less, there is no jail time. Instead, the underage driver may face:
- Up to a one-year suspension of their license
- A fine of up to $100
- A three-month or longer mandatory alcohol education program if the driver is 18 years or older
An individual facing a second or further offense can expect harsher punishment.
Other Offenses a California Underage Driver May Face for a DUI
There are other California laws that underage DUI defendants may face. These are based on some of the same factors adult DUI drivers undergo and include:
- VC §23224 – Underage possession of alcohol in a vehicle can result in a one-year license suspension, up to a $1,000 fine, and up to 30 days of impoundment for the car.
- VC §23222(b) – An open marijuana container in your car can result in a fine of up to $100.
- VC §23136 – Driving with a .01% BAC can result in a one-year suspension of your license.
- VC §23152(a) – Standard adult DUI can result in up to six months in county jail, a license suspension, three to five years of misdemeanor probation, a $390 – $1,000 fine, and an alcohol education program.
- VC §23153 – If deemed a misdemeanor: A DUI causing injury can result in five days to one year in jail, three to five years of misdemeanor probation, license suspension, a fine between $390 – $5,000, DUI school, and restitution to the injured parties.
If the violation is considered a felony, the results can bring:
- Two to five years in prison
- Fines of $1,015 – $5,000
- A five-year license revocation
- DUI school
- 3 years of Habitual Traffic Offender status
Preparing a Defense in a VC §23140 Violation Case
If you have been arrested for a VC §23140 violation, then you should contact a qualified DUI attorney immediately. There are tight time limits involved after an arrest. You should share all the pertinent data and be honest with your legal team.
Possible legal defenses that could be raised include:
Insufficient Probable Cause for Your Arrest
The officer needs to explain probable cause for why they felt you may have been intoxicated. Reasons could include swerving while driving, visible open alcohol beverage containers in your car, or the smell of alcohol on your breath. If they cannot deliver a good reason, your case could be dismissed.
If you had a cold and were using over-the-counter cough medicine or nighttime cold formulas, it is possible the alcohol contained in these products could have created a false-positive test result for alcohol consumption. Even some types of breath sprays and strips can create a positive result in some people.
Challenge the PAS Test or Equipment Calibration
If you and your attorney feel it is warranted, you can challenge the preliminary alcohol screening roadside test. Under Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, the equipment for a proper breath test must:
- Be approved by the state
- Must be calibrated after 150 uses, or every 10 days, whichever comes first
- The law enforcement department must have detailed records for the testing and calibration of all its equipment
A lack of utilizing any of these steps by law enforcement may result in your case being dismissed.
A Violation of Your Rights
If your Miranda rights were violated, such as your rights not being provided to you, some evidence against you could be suppressed and no longer used against you. The result is that you are more likely to win your case.
Let a Los Angeles DUI Attorney Handle Your VC §23140 Case
Call us or fill out your contact information on our website. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year, so sync up with a skilled DUI attorney who is ready to offer you a free consultation and fight for your rights. Contact us now!