Technically, drivers in the state of California are not legally supposed to drink alcohol before they are 21. California is a zero-tolerance state for underage drinking. This means that the illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) for driving under 21 is 0.01% in California.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you go over the specific laws tied to underage drinking and driving in California. You can review penalties for under 21 DUIs and consider some legal defenses with this article.
California’s Zero-Tolerance Law for Underage Drinking and Driving
As we mentioned, it is illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.01% if you are under 21. Drivers who violate this regulation may be prosecuted under California Vehicle Code Section 23136.
Note that VC 23136 is considered an infraction. Therefore, VC 23136 violations are not technically criminal acts. However, VC 23136 convictions can still lead to:
- A one-year license suspension for a first offense
- A three-year license revocation for a subsequent offense
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Additional Laws Related to Under 21 DUIs in California
You should be aware that VC 23136 is not the only charge used to prosecute underage drivers accused of a DUI. You could also face criminal charges under:
Vehicle Code Section 23140
VC 23140 is California’s general underage DUI law. This law makes it illegal to operate a vehicle if your BAC is between 0.05% and 0.07% and you are under 21. A conviction can lead to:
- Mandatory attendance in an alcohol education program
- Fines of up to $100
- License suspension of up to one year
Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)
VC 23152(a) represents California’s standard DUI charge. This charge can apply to any driver in the state who operates a vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.08%. This includes drivers under 21. VC 23152(a) convictions can result in:
- Mandatory attendance in an alcohol treatment program
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Jail time of up to six months
Additional DUI Laws
There are a number of other charges used to prosecute DUIs in California. You may face different charges if you are accused of injuring someone while operating a vehicle under the influence, for example. You could also be charged for driving a vehicle after consuming illicit drugs or some prescription medications. In all of these cases, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles as quickly as possible.
Possession of Alcohol for Drivers Under 21
Driving while inebriated is against the law in California. The court system can also prosecute drivers under 21 simply for having possession of alcohol. Drivers under 21 are not legally allowed to carry:
- Wine, beer, or liquor
- Inside their vehicle UNLESS
- They are with a parent or another legally specified guardian AND
- The container of alcohol is unopened, sealed, and full
If you are found in possession of alcohol while driving you could face:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- License suspension of up to one year
Additionally, according to the California Driver Handbook’s section on alcohol and drugs, the court could impound your vehicle for up to 30 days.
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Handle Under 21 DUI Charges in California
You have legal options if you are accused of having an illegal BAC for driving under 21 in California. A professional DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can go over the facts of your case today. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after you are arrested to improve your odds of successfully resolving under 21 DUI charges.
Your legal team may be able to get your charges:
- Reduced to an acceptable level
- Dismissed if you were stopped without reasonable cause
A DUI lawyer can also work to develop a strong defense for you. Some DUI charges in California must be resolved in the courtroom. Let the team at the Simmrin Law Group work to block or dispute evidence against you while constructing your defense.
Our team can also help you handle your hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You must request this hearing within 10 days of your arrest for a DUI, or the DMV can automatically suspend your driver’s license. Get help with all of your legal needs by reaching out to us today.
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Get Help with Under 21 DUI Charges in California
California’s laws on underage drinking and driving are harsh. The illegal BAC for driving under 21 is 0.01%, giving drivers very little room to make a mistake. Fortunately, you can get help with under 21 DUI charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. Fill out our online contact form or call (310) 896-2723 to learn more.
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