Generally, California forbids drivers from operating a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above 0.08%. However, this rule doesn’t apply to drivers under the age of 21. Drivers below the legal drinking age are not supposed to operate a vehicle if their BAC is at or above 0.01%.
The state uses California Vehicle Code Section 23136: Under 21 DUI with Any Measurable Amount of Alcohol to prosecute this zero-tolerance policy. Find out more about California’s rules for DUIs under the age of 21 right here with the Simmrin Law Group.
Defining the Legal Uses of VC 23136
Vehicle Code Section 23136 is used specifically to deal with underage drivers who have a BAC above 0.01% but not above the legal limit of 0.08%. This charge can apply if an underage driver’s BAC is elevated due to:
- The Usage of Alcoholic Beverages
- Some Medications Containing Alcohol
You should be aware that this charge is not considered a criminal act. Drivers won’t face fines or jail time for a VC 23136 violation. However, they can have their driver’s license suspended:
- Up to One Year for a First-Time Violation
- Up to Three Years for Subsequent DUI Violations
Additional Charges for Underage DUIs
VC 23136 is one of two charges specifically set out to deal with underage DUIs in California. The other charge used to penalize underage drivers for an elevated BAC is Vehicle Code Section 2340: Under 21 DUI with Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07%.
Note that VC 23136 charges go right up to the legal limit of 0.07%. This charge can also lead to a license suspension of up to one year. It can also result in fines of up to $100 and drivers may be required to attend an alcohol education program for up to three months.
“Adult” DUI Charges and Drivers Under 21
Some drivers think that if they are under 21 they cannot be charged under the “adult” DUI charges in California. This is not the case. In fact, VC 23136 specifically notes that it does not bar prosecution under:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152: Driving Under the Influence Of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23153: DUI Causing Injury
Since these charges can apply to drivers under 21, let’s go over each of them in detail.
Applications of VC 23152 Charges in California
VC 23152 is California’s general charge for driving under the influence of alcohol. This charge applies to any driver with a BAC at or above 0.08%, regardless of their age. VC 23152 violations are considered criminal acts. A first-time conviction for VC 23152 can lead to:
- Fines of Up to $2,000
- Jail Time of Up to Six Months
- License Suspension of Up to One Year
You should also be aware that the penalties for VC 23152 convictions grow more severe each time a driver is convicted.
Understanding VC 23153 Charges
VC 23153 charges can apply anytime an individual operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and causes an accident that injures another person. A first-time conviction for a DUI causing injury can lead to:
- Fines of Up to $5,000
- Jail Time of Up to One Year
- License Suspension of Up to Three Years
As with VC 23152 charges, the penalties for a VC 23153 conviction will grow more severe if an individual is arrested more than once.
Defending Against VC 23153 Charges in California
Your BAC Test Was Inaccurate
Chemical testing to measure BAC is not always reliable. In fact, testing devices can be notoriously ineffective, especially when it comes to measuring a low BAC like 0.01%. Your lawyer could work to show that your test results were flawed, working to beat a VC 23136 charge.
You Were Given a BAC Test Without Probable Cause
Police officers in California should only stop you and test your BAC if they had reasonable cause to believe you were operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. If you were stopped without reason, you could have your charges thrown out.
Get Legal Help Handling Under 21 DUI Charges
You can reach out to the Simmrin Law Group today to get help dealing with California Vehicle Code Section 23136: Under 21 DUI with Any Measurable Amount of Alcohol. Let us help you fight against any DUI charge. Call (310) 997-4688 or fill out our online contact form to get help.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles can offer you a FREE case evaluation today.