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Underage DUI in California

In California, it’s against the law for underage drivers (under 21-years-of-age) to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01%. This is because under California’s “zero tolerance law,” underage drivers cannot have any alcohol in their system when they operate a motor vehicle.

If an underage driver is caught driving with a BAC of .08% or more, they can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). This means the young driver would face the same penalties as adult drivers who are 21 or over.

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

Under California’s zero tolerance law, if an underage driver is caught driving with a BAC of .01% or more, he or she is guilty of an infraction. If convicted, the young driver faces a minimum of a one-year driver’s license suspension and up to $250 in fines. To learn more, see Cal. Penal Code §1938 and Cal. Veh. Code § 23136 and 13353.3.

Underage DUI California

If an underage driver is caught driving with a BAC of .05%, but less than .08%, he or she can be charged with underage DUI, which is an infraction. Surprisingly, the penalties for underage DUI are only slightly higher than a zero-tolerance violation. An underage DUI is punishable by up to a $300 fine and by a one-year license suspension. If the offender is between 18 and 20, he or she must complete an alcohol education program before their license can be reinstated.

Penalties for a Standard DUI

Suppose a young driver is caught driving with a BAC of .08% or above. In that case, he or she can be charged with a standard DUI, which means they would face the same penalties as an adult age 21 or over. The penalties for a standard first-time DUI include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • One to five years’ probation
  • Alcohol education classes (3 to 6 months)
  • Up to $1,500 in fines and court fees
  • Up to six months in county jail

Are you, or your son or daughter facing underage DUI charges? If so, contact our firm for a FREE consultation with OC’s DUI Queen!