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Young Drivers and the PAS Test

Each state has enacted its own laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI). While the penalties vary slightly, there are a lot of similarities between the states. For instance, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% on all states. It’s also against the law for drivers under the age of 21 to drink and drive, period.

As a general rule, the anti-drinking and driving laws are stricter for underage drinkers. Why is this? Because, history has proven that teenagers and young adults have a problem with DUI for multiple reasons, such as having limited experience drinking and with driving.

The rules are simply different for young drivers nationwide. All states have enacted “zero tolerance” laws that make it illegal for drivers under the age of 21 to have any measurable alcohol in their bloodstream. While the BAC limits for young drivers range from 0.00 to 0.02% BAC, in California, the limit is 0.00%.

What is the PAS test?

California law enforcement officers use what is called the preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) to measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The PAS test is a handheld device and the young DUI suspect is asked to provide a breath sample during the traffic stop.

If you are under the age of 21 and a police officer suspects that you have been drinking and driving, he or she will ask you to take a PAS test. If the PAS test is not available for some reason, you will be asked to take another chemical test, such as a blood test or a more sophisticated breath test down at the station.

Note: If you’re under 21 and you refused to take the PAS test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year.

When the PAS Test Results Are Positive

If your PAS test results are positive, meaning if the PAS test or another chemical test shows that you have any alcohol in your system, even just 0.01%, your driver’s license will be confiscated. If the officer believes that you can get home safely, he or she will issue you a temporary driver’s license.

The officer will inform you that “your driver’s license will be suspended.” Your license suspension will take effect in 30 days from the DUI stop.

What if my BAC was much higher?

Let’s say that your BAC was much higher than 0.01% - it was above .08% (the legal limit for drivers over 21). In that case, the officer will fill out a DMV form called the Administrative Per Se Suspension Revocation Order and Temporary License.

When you receive this form, you will be informed about your driver’s license suspension. The form will indicate that you have the right to request a DMV hearing. Please be advised that if your BAC was .08% or above, you will likely have to go to court for a hearing, and you will be subjected to court-imposed fines and penalties for a California DUI, regardless of the fact that you’re under 21.

Whether you are under 21, or a parent of a young driver who’s facing DUI charges, you need a strong defense. Contact our office to speak to a Board Certified DUI defense specialist for free!