A DUI arrest can be a stressful occurrence and a DUI conviction holds severe penalties. If the person charged with a DUI is underage or a juvenile, it can make the overwhelming process more frightening. A DUI conviction can affect anyone in his or her legal, personal, and economic life for years to come. If the person convicted is under the legal drinking age, it may require making further arrangements to get to school or work, and can hinder you from securing future employment.

In California, a person can be charged with an underage DUI if that person is under 21 and is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. You can be charged with a juvenile DUI if you are under the influence and operating a vehicle when you are under the age of 18.

At the Orange County DUI Attorney Law firm, our attorneys have decades of experience in successfully handling underage and juvenile DUIs. If you or a family member has been charged with a Juvenile or Underage DUI, do not take it lightly. It is a serious situation. It is of the utmost importance that you consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in handling Underage and Juvenile DUI, and knows how to negotiate with district attorneys and prosecutors. The Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm will be very diligent and advocate on your behalf during the DUI process: DMV Hearing, Negotiating Plea Bargains, Pre-Trial Hearings, and, if applicable, at Trial. The Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm is dedicated and has the required resources to assist you and handle your case with the skill that is needed. Do not allow this one mistake to have a longer lasting impact on your life than necessary.

If you read this article and believe that we are the right attorneys to handle your case, then call our office at 949-377-2280 for your FREE consultation.

The Zero Tolerance Law in California

Pursuant to California Law (CVC 23136), it is unlawful for a person that is under 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a 0.01% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher. California takes this law seriously and is very strict when an underage person drinks and drives. An Underage DUI (CVC23140) is defined as a person under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with a .05% BAC or higher. The legal limit for minors is significantly lower than the limit for those above the legal drinking age, meaning that having one drink can result in a minor being charged with an Underage DUI. Notice that pursuant the aforementioned laws, no further evidence of intoxication is required to charge a person with Underage DUI.

As previously mentioned, California’s law is strict when dealing with an underage DUI case and a “zero tolerance” approach is taken. A zero tolerance approach applies when any form of alcohol, or even some medicines that contain alcohol, no matter the amount, can put a minor over the legal limit.

If you have been stopped for an underage DUI, an officer will most likely give you a roadside Preliminary Alcohol Screening test (PAS), a common test for a normal DUI. This PAS will usually be in the form of a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer takes into account the alcohol contained in your breath and then outputs the level of alcohol concentration in your blood.

If, after the PAS test, you are arrested, the officer will most likely administer a post-arrest chemical test. This can be administered in either a blood test or another breath test.

Common Penalties for an underage DUI Conviction:

  1. The DMV of California will suspend your license for 1 year. Our attorneys can challenge this suspension at your DMV hearing.
  2. A $100 fine, if it is a first offense.
  3. A required participation in an alcohol education program, a minimum of 3 months if you are over 18 years old.
  4. Pursuant Vehicle Code 23224, since a person under 21 may not have alcohol in their vehicle, you may also be charged with possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21 years of age. There are exceptions that permit an underage person to have alcohol in the vehicle:
  • If the person under 21 is employed by someone who has a valid liquor license, and the transportation of liquor is part of their job, or
  • The alcohol is unopened, untouched, and sealed, or
  • An adult has asked the person under 21 to get rid of the alcohol.

Pursuant Vehicle Code 23224, the possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under the age of 21 is considered a misdemeanor, and the consequences of this violation may be more severe than that of an underage DUI. IF you have been charged for and convicted of alcohol possession in a vehicle by a person under 21, the following will most likely occur:

  1. A fine of up to $1,000.
  2. Your vehicle being impounded for up to 30 days.
  3. A driver’s license suspension of up to one year.

If your license is suspended, the attorneys at our firm can help you in acquiring a “restricted hardship license” that you can use while serving your license suspension. A restricted hardship license allows you to drive to school and/ or work if you are unable to find alternate means of transportation.

A charge for underage DUI or possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21 may not have long-term consequences if they are quickly handled by one of our experienced DUI attorneys. Contact our office so that our attorneys can begin addressing your case and improve your chances to get your charges dismissed.

If your BAC level was over .08% you will be charged as an adult, and will be facing a standard adult DUI pursuant Vehicle Code 23152, no matter what your age is. An adult DUI is a more severe charge that will result in you facing standard DUI for a first time DUI. These penalties include:

  • Up to six months jail time;
  • Up to $1,000 fine;
  • Up to five years of probation;
  • Participation in alcohol or drug programs; or
  • A suspension of your driver’s license

Legal Defenses that can be asserted for Underage and Juvenile DUI

Our attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm can assist you if you have been charged with an underage DUI.  Call us for your FREE consultation, where we will begin to assess your case.  Our attorneys specialize and only handle DUI and criminal defense cases in all of Orange County.

We will answer any questions you have and help build a strong defense to help fight the charges against you.

Common defenses for an underage DUI offense are:

  1. An illegal arrest or traffic stop.
  • The arresting officer must have had a valid and reasonable suspicion in order to pull you over. If our attorneys can find that the officer lacked the required reasonable suspicion that you were pulled over for engaging in criminal activity, any evidence as a result of the traffic stop can be suppressed to prevent it from being used against you. If our attorneys are able to suppress the evidence, your charges may be dropped or reduced.
  1. You were not behind the wheel of the vehicle.
  • Your charges may be dropped or reduced if our attorneys can successfully prove that you were not behind the wheel of the vehicle.
  1. The results shown by testing equipment used to charge you of a DUI were unreliable.
  • The testing equipment for calculating breath results must be calibrated after every 150 uses or every 10 days in California. Your charges may be dropped or reduced if our attorneys can prove that the device used in your incident was not properly calibrated.
  1. The person administrating the field sobriety test did not follow the proper protocol.
  • The person administering the tests must follow certain procedures in order for the results to be valid. Failing to attach the mouthpiece properly or making sure that your mouth is empty are errors that may result in inaccurate breath test results. These mistakes may then lead to your charges being reduced or dropped.
  1. The person conducting the field sobriety test did not keep accurate records.
  • The person who administers the test must make sure that you do not eat, burp, vomit, drink, or smoke during the 15 minutes prior to the test. If the test was not administered properly, your charges may be reduced or dropped.
  1. Your diet consisted of high protein/low carbohydrates.
  • If your diet was one of high protein/low carbohydrate when you were arrested, an argument could be made that the breath test read the ketones your body produced as alcohol. Ketones may also be produced when someone is fasting or the person is a diabetic. These factors may lead to having the charges against you dropped or reduced.
  1. Environmental factors skewed the tests.
  • A failing performance of field sobriety test can be attributed to many factors. Some of these factors may be that there was not sufficient light where you performed the tests, the surface where you were required to perform was uneven, or perhaps the shoes you were wearing hindered your performance ability.
  1. A medical condition was present during the time of arrest, this can be acid reflux or heartburn
  • Some medical conditions have been known to cause a confusion of alcohol levels in one’s mouth. Medical conditions that cause stomach acid to flow into the mouth may skew breath tests making the DUI test results unreliable. Medical conditions such as, GERD (Gastro esophageal Reflux Disease), heartburn and acid reflux are known conditions that may result in false high BAC levels on breath tests in California. If you have one of these conditions, these charges may help get your charges dropped or reduced.
  1. The arresting officers did not apprise you of your legal rights properly.
  • An officer is required to read you your legal rights at the time you are arrested. If the officers initiate a “custodial interrogation” where the officers ask you questions in order to elicit answers that may be self-incriminating, you need to be read your rights. If the officers have not read you your legal rights prior to the custodial interrogation, any statements that you made cannot be used against you and may lead to your charges being reduced or dropped.
  1. Another source was the reason for the alcohol presence in your mouth, such as mouthwash.
  • Alcohol from another source that is still in the person’s mouth may result in an abnormally higher breath test result than is in the person’s system. The other source may be from cough syrup ingested or gargling mouthwash before being pulled over.
  1. A DUI checkpoint stop that was unlawful.
  • The state of California monitors DUI checkpoints strictly and requires that a supervising police officer monitor the checkpoint, as well as publicly advertise the DUI checkpoint.

If you, or a family has been charged with a Juvenile or Underage DUI, call the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm to schedule your FREE DUI consultation.

Our team of attorneys has over 30 years of experience, and has handled over 11,000 cases. At the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm, we pride ourselves in preferring to meet face-to-face, in order to answer all of your questions in person rather than give you a phone consultation like other firms. By meeting in person, we know that we can provide you with the understanding required to assure your trust us in a very stressful and overwhelming process. At your FREE consultation, we will listen to the facts of your incident and discuss all of the defenses that may be available to you in your case. If you are dealing with a DUI charge, we highly recommend that you call immediately and do not delay. The earlier we can listen to your case and discuss all of your options, the earlier we can start building your defense. By calling sooner, you increase your chances of our attorneys being able to get the DMV to put aside your license suspension, and get your charges reduced, or even dismissed.

To schedule your FREE DUI consultation, contact the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm at 949-377-2280