California uses a zero-tolerance policy to handle alcohol use among minors. Even drinking a small amount of alcohol as a minor can lead to serious legal consequences, including charges for driving under the influence (DUI).
Drivers charged with a DUI as a minor – or someone under 18 – will often have their cases handled in juvenile court. Use this article to find out if a DUI as a minor will show up on your record as an adult. The Simmrin Law Group can also help you consider defenses for a DUI as a minor if you call (310) 997-4688.
Understand Under 18 DUI Charges in California
Technically, drivers in California are not permitted to drink alcohol until after they are 21. However, drivers over 18 are considered adults by the court system. Drivers under 18 are minors and their charges are generally handled in juvenile court, instead of the adult court system.
Drivers under 18 who go to juvenile court do not get “convicted.” Instead, the court will decide on an “adjudication.” This distinction is important, as it means that:
- The juvenile’s record will be sealed at 18
- The outcome of the case will not be considered a DUI conviction
Only DUI convictions count against drivers in California. Therefore, the results of a juvenile court adjudication should not show up on a minor’s record once they are an adult. Additionally, under-18 DUI offenses should not be treated as priorable in California.
Focus on Under 21 DUI Charges in California
Thus far, we have discussed DUI charges for drivers under the age of 18. Let’s focus on how California handles DUI charges for drivers over 18 but under 21. Once a driver reaches the age of 18, they are considered an adult and will face DUI charges in criminal court.
California requires drivers under 21 to maintain a blood alcohol content (BAC) under 0.01% to legally operate a vehicle. Drivers who violate this regulation could face charges like:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23136: Under 21 DUI with Any Measurable Amount of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI with Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07 Percent
These charges can lead to a driver’s license suspension and fines, in the case of VC 23140. However, they are not prosecuted as harshly as “adult” charges for DUIs in California. These charges will show up on your record and they are priorable.
Note that drivers under 21 may also face California’s general DUI charges if their BAC is at or above 0.08%. If you are charged with an under-21 DUI, you can get help right now from a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Call (310) 997-4688 to get the legal assistance you need.
DUI Charges and a Driver’s Record in California
As we have mentioned, an adjudication in juvenile court for a DUI should not appear on a driver’s adult record. All DUI convictions in the criminal court system, however, will remain on your record for 10 years. Criminal charges on your record can:
- Make it more difficult to get a job
- Be viewed by colleges before admission
- Increase penalties for subsequent criminal charges
Some employers will not hire a driver with a DUI on their record. A DUI can also make it more difficult to get into the school you want to attend or for you to join the military in California.
DUIs Are Priorable in California’s Court System
All DUIs in California are priorable. This means that they will count against you if you are accused of a subsequent DUI. Each DUI conviction in California comes with increased penalties. For example, a first-time, general DUI can lead to:
- Jail time of up to six months
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months
A second conviction for a DUI in California could result in:
- Jail time of up to one year
- Fines of up to $2,500
- Use of an IID for one year
Make sure that you’re ready to handle any DUI charge by getting professional help as soon as you are arrested.
Speak to a Lawyer about a DUI as a Minor in California
A DUI as a minor in California should not show up on your record as an adult if you were under 18 at the time of your arrest. However, if you get a DUI while over 18 and under 21, it will show up on your record. In either case, it’s important that you get professional help quickly from a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.
You can call (310) 997-4688 to reach the Simmrin Law Group. Fill out our online contact form to get a FREE consultation.