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What are the penalties for an underage DUI in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2022 | DUI

Allegations of driving under the influence can be challenging for anyone. However, if a juvenile is arrested for DUI, the law and the penalties are not the same as they are for someone who is 21 and older. In some ways they are even more strict than they are for older drivers. Forging a defense that is specifically tailored to the allegations is imperative. The first step is understanding how the state handles DUI if the driver is under 21.

The DUI laws differ for juveniles

People under 21 are subject to the Admin Per Se (APS) program in which there is an administrative license suspension for DUI. In addition, there is the “Zero Tolerance” law. For drivers who are at least 21 and can legally drink, the blood-alcohol concentration level is 0.08% to be charged with DUI. For those under 21, the Zero Tolerance policy means they will be subject to the APS program if they are tested and register 0.01%. If the driver does not submit to a test when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer, it is a refusal and will also result in APS.

At the time the driver is found to be committing a juvenile DUI, the law enforcement officer takes the permanent driver license for it to be destroyed and provides the driver with a temporary driver license. The temporary license is valid for 30 days. Then the suspension/revocation goes into effect. Drivers have the right to ask for a hearing within 10 days of receiving the order. There are avenues that can be explored to lodge a defense and potentially fight the charges. For example, if the officer did not have reasonable cause to start the investigation, then this could be a defense.

Drivers who register 0.01% will have a one-year driver license suspension. If the case is based on refusing to take a test, the suspensions will vary depending on how many times the driver has committed refusal. A first offense is a one-year suspension; a second offense within 10 years is a two-year suspension; at least three offenses in 10 years will result in a three-year suspension.

Juveniles should understand the value of defending against DUI charges

It is not uncommon for people under 21 to drink alcohol. Some might make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after doing so. While this is obviously a legal violation, it does not automatically mean they must face the penalties for a juvenile DUI. There could be extenuating circumstances or the investigation itself could be flawed. Since the consequences of lost driving privileges and other consequences can be so problematic for a juvenile, it is imperative to have assistance when dealing with these charges.