California's underage DUI laws are among the toughest in the nation. California has a zero tolerance law. The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.01% for drivers under 21. This means teens cannot drink any alcohol and operate a motor vehicle. Thus anyone under 21 years of age with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.01% or greater will be charged with a DUI. A person may be arrested for a DUI after consuming one 12-ounce beer or one 4-ounce glass of wine or say, one 1.25-ounce shot of liquor. Underage drivers with a BAC of 0.05% or greater may be charged with both an underage DUI and an enhancement for having a high BAC.
You must be aware that California law provides that during the first year of holding a driver's license, drivers under the age of 18 must have a licensed driver older than 25 with them between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and at any time they transport passengers 20 years old and younger. The law requires a compulsory signed note for exceptions to the restrictions, which include medical or school reasons.
Underage DUIs like other DUIs are subject to two separate actions - the Department of Motor Vehicles, ("DMV") and the criminal court.
In case the police arrest a person under 21 who drives with any measurable amount of alcohol in his/her system, the minor will face license suspension or revocation for one to three years. In case the accused driver refuses to take a blood alcohol test or a sobriety test when asked by the police, his/her license will be suspended for one or more years.
The estimated costs for a first offense DUI offense in California can be several thousand dollars. This can include suspension of the offender's license for one year, fines up to approximately $1000, plus penalties and assessments which are over 250% of the base fine, jail, vehicle impound fee, booking fees, Attorney & Legal fees, DMV license reissuance fees, and many others. Other incidental costs may include medical costs, vehicle property damage and other appropriate expenses depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case. Subsequent offenses carry much harsher penalties.
Should you or someone you know be arrested for an underage DUI, please contact the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes for free consultation to learn more about your child's legal rights.
Scott Hughes is an Orange County DUI Attorney located in Newport Beach, CA.