California's Zero Tolerance Law

teenager with dad in the background

Teens belong to a special class of citizens 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 are teens high risk? Because, statistics show 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. In 2010, 1 in 5 teens in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system, and 81% of those drivers had a BAC above the .08% legal limit for adult drivers 21 and older.


Because underage drinking and driving is a dangerous epidemic, California has zero tolerance for underage DUI. Under California’s zero tolerance law, it’s against the law for a young driver under 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher. This means that if a 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, the young person’s driver license will be automatically suspended for one year if:

  • He or she drove and their BAC measured .01% or higher,
  • He or she refused to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, a handheld breath test taken roadside during the DUI stop, or
  • The young driver failed 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 limit is .08%, and for commercial drivers 21 and older, the BAC limit is .04%.

If you are a parent whose teenager is facing underage drinking charges, or if you’re the one in trouble, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation!

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