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Under 21 DUI: Unique Laws & Penalties

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime that can be prosecuted and penalized in a number of ways. For any DUI offense, prosecutors will typically focus on the following elements when determining which charges to file and which punishment to pursue:

  • The circumstances surrounding an arrest; and
  • The driver's criminal history;

Based on these and other various factors, prosecutors will work toward charging individuals with the appropriate offense and on pursuing the appropriate penalties. While this is the most common approach in DUI cases, there are exceptions – especially in cases involving drivers under the age of 21.

ZERO Tolerance

The state of California enforces a strict zero tolerance law for drivers under 21. As the legal age to drink in America is 21, no driver under the age of 21 is permitted to drive with alcohol in their system. This means that it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .01% or greater.

Underage DUI Penalties

In addition to California's zero tolerance law, there are also unique penalties underage drivers face when charged with DUI. In most DUI cases involving drivers who are over 21, driver's license suspensions will vary, with many terms being under one year. For most underage drivers, however, there is an automatic license suspension of one year minimum. License suspensions for underage drivers are as follows:

  • One year suspension for underage drivers who register .01% BAC of higher.
  • If a chemical test was refused, a one year suspension for a first offense.
  • If a chemical test was refused, a two year revocation for a second offense in 10 years.
  • If a chemical test was refused, a three year revocation for a second offense in 10 years.

Driver's license suspensions, as well as criminal charges, can be challenged with the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you are under the age of 21 and facing DUI allegations, or if your child has been charged with an underage DUI, allow the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry to protect your rights during both DMV hearings and criminal proceedings. For more information about your case, call (949) 537-2202.