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What is the Zero Tolerance Law in California?

As a teenager, you belong to a special class of Orange County residents who are in the “high-risk” category for a number of things, such as texting while driving, distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, and most importantly, driving under the influence (DUI).

Why? Because, statistics show that teens in particular have a problem with the above issues. That’s the main reason why their auto insurance is so expensive!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while teenage drinking and driving has declined by 54% since 1991, teens still drink and drive nearly 2.4 million times a month in the United States.

The CDC reports that 85% of high school students who reported drinking in the past month said that they binge drank, which amounts to drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within two hours.

In 2010, 1 in 5 teens that were in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system, and 81% of those drivers had a BAC that was higher than the .08% legal limit for adult drivers 21 and older (CDC).

Why is it that since 1991, we’ve seen a large drop in the number of teens who drink and drive? According to the CDC, research has found that various factors, such as a minimum drinking age and zero tolerance laws have protected our young drivers as well as everyone else on the road.

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

Does California have its own zero tolerance law? Yes, as a matter of fact it does. Under California’s zero tolerance law, it’s against the law for a young driver under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher. So, this means that if the driver is under 21, they cannot drink any alcohol and drive, they can’t even have one “light” beer and get away with it.

Under the state’s zero tolerance law, if a driver is under 21 and their BAC measures .01% or more, then the young person’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year if:

  • Their BAC measured .01% or higher,
  • He or she refused to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, which is a handheld breath test taken roadside during the DUI stop, or
  • The young driver fails to complete the PAS test administered roadside.

In California, drivers under 21 cannot drive with a BAC of .01% or more. For drivers age 21 and older, the BAC limit is .08%, and for commercial drivers 21 and older, the BAC limit is .04%.

If you are a parent whose son or daughter is facing underage drinking charges, or if you’re the one in trouble, don’t hesitate to contact our Orange County DUI defense firm for a free consultation!