Under California law, it is illegal for any individual under the age of 21 to purchase and consume any amount of alcohol. If someone under 21 is found to be driving with a noticeable amount of alcohol in their system, legally defined as being between 0.05% and 0.07%, they may be charged under California’s Under 21 DUI law.
If you or a loved one has been charged with underage drinking and driving, it is vitally important that you contact a skilled Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as you can. Certain penalties for a DUI charge must be contested starting in as little as ten days after the arrest. The sooner you contact a DUI attorney, the sooner you can start building a solid defense against these charges. To schedule a free consultation with a leading DUI attorney, call us today at (310)971-9045.
CA Vehicle Code Section 23140
California Vehicle Code Section 23140 describes the specific standards for a DUI charge against individuals under the age of 21. In order to be found guilty under this section, drivers must:
- Be under the age of 21 when driving AND
- Have a blood alcohol content between 0.05% and 0.07%
This section does not cover drivers under 21 who are found to have a BAC of 0.08% or greater. In those cases, drivers would be covered under Vehicle Code 23153, which is the same section that applied to drivers over 21. In other words, you would be facing the same range of penalties as everyone else, including thousands of dollars in fines and fees, mandatory driver’s education, and jail time.
Penalties for an Under 21 DUI
An Under 21 DUI with less than 0.08% BAC is considered an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor or felony. If you are convicted of a DUI under Section 23140 for the first time, you face the following penalties:
- $100 in fines
- A one-year license suspension
- Three months or more of alcohol education programs.
If a driver is convicted of violating Vehicle Code 23140 twice in a single year, they will face $200 fine on top of any other penalties that might be administered. A third offense in a year will raise the fine to $300.
In addition, the California DMV may make take additional steps against a driver under the age of 21 found to have a BAC of 0.01% or higher. If the DMV is notified of a driver under the age of 21 driving with any amount of alcohol in his or her system, that driver’s license can be subject to an administrative suspension that is entirely separate from the criminal charges. As such, the DMV may suspend your license even before a court has a chance to decide if a criminal offense has happened. In this case, it’s important that you request an administrative hearing within 10 days of the DUI arrest, as that is the only window to contest the DMV’s actions.
Don’t Face an Under 21 DUI Charge without Expert Help
Prosecutors in California like to discourage underage drinking by pushing for the harshest penalties possible. If you are charged with an Under 21 DUI, you should not expect any leniency from the court, even if it was the first mistake you’ve ever made or even if the offense happened days before you turn 21.
Your best defense against an Under 21 DUI charge is with the help of a lawyer who specializes in handling DUI cases. They can evaluate the prosecution’s evidence against you and find holes that others might miss. Chemical tests do have a margin of error, police officers sometimes make arrests without probable cause, and sometimes other factors may cause a driver to appear under the influence of alcohol when they aren’t. In these cases, an experienced DUI attorney can negotiate on your behalf to reduce or dismiss charges before you ever step inside of a court for a trial.
If you’re ready to hear what a DUI attorney can do to help you, call us at (310)971-9045 or enter your information into the form on this website. We will help you schedule a consultation with one of our leading DUI attorneys who will evaluate your case for free.
With only 10 days from the date of your arrest to contest the first of many penalties from an Under 21 DUI, reach out today!