In California and other states across the country, only adults who are at least 21 years of age can consume alcohol. However, it is not uncommon for high school and college students to engage in underage drinking at parties and other social gatherings.
Since every state takes drunk driving seriously, many of them have specific laws for underage drunk drivers. California has a “zero tolerance” law, which makes it a civil offense for a person under 21 years old to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .01 percent.
Violation of the state’s zero tolerance law is punishable by driver’s license suspension for up to one year. Yet, if a driver has a history of multiple drunk driving violations, then license revocation can last between two and three years.
If a driver under 21 has a BAC of at least .05 percent, he/she violates California’s “underage DUI” law, which is an infraction. Penalties for violating the underage DUI law include driver’s license suspension for up to one year, a maximum fine of $100, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education program for at least three months (for drivers who are at least 18 years old).
If an underage driver has a BAC of at least .08 percent, he/she can be charged with a standard DUI and face the same criminal penalties as drivers who are 21 years of age or older. A first offense carries driver’s license suspension for up to one year, fines of up to $1,000, enrollment in an alcohol and/or drug education program for between three and nine months, and a jail sentence for up to six months.
If an underage driver refuses to take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or a post-arrest chemical test (i.e. breath or blood test), then his/her driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least one year.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Newport Beach or Orange County, contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC today at (949) 251-0330 and schedule a free consultation today. Get a legal team of former prosecutors on your side immediately!