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Minor and DUI when will I be charged as an adult?

Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “If I was 17 when I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and my blood alcohol concentration was well above the legal limit, will I be tried as an adult or will I be tried as a minor? Also, in the State of California, what charges can I expect? This is my first offense.”


When is a minor tried as an adult in California?

In most cases, when a minor is charged with committing a crime in the State of California they will be tried within the juvenile court system. Under some conditions, however, the law allows the minor’s case to be moved to an adult criminal court. Before this can happen, however, a fitness hearing must be held. A fitness hearing is the legal proceeding which allows the court to review the criminal actions and determine whether the minor is likely to benefit from the rehabilitative services of juvenile delinquency court. Whether or not the prosecution will request a fitness hearing will depend on the following:
  1. Is the minor at least 16 years of age and have they potentially committed a crime?
  2. Is the minor at least 16 years of age and have they previously committed a felony where the minor has previously been made a ward of the court and found to have committed two or more felony offenses while over the age of 14 (in which case the minor is presumed to be unfit for juvenile court)?
  3. Is the minor over the age of 14 and is alleged to have committed an offense specified in W&I Code 707(b) (in which case the minor is presumed to be unfit for juvenile court)?
What charges are contained in the California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 707(c)? Charges under this regulation include murder, arson with great bodily harm, robbery, rape with force, sodomy by force, kidnapping for ransom, oral copulation by force, attempted murder, assault with force and potential great bodily injury, assault with a firearm, carjacking, aggravated mayhem, torture, kidnapping during a carjacking, exploding a device with the intent to commit murder, and voluntary manslaughter. Do you see what we’re getting at here? It’s actually very good news for you. California courts generally do not move cases to the adult criminal system unless the charges are very severe, which generally does not include a misdemeanor DUI charge.

What charges can you expect for minor charged with DUI?

Now, just because your case will probably not be moved to adult court does not mean that you will avoid severe penalties. In fact, you can expect to lose your license for at least one year, and you can expect enhanced penalties if your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or above. You can also expect to pay fines and perform a certain number of community service hours. Bottom line: You should not be charged as an adult after you are arrested as a minor for driving under the influence of alcohol, but you will receive severe penalties and potentially high fines. Recent articles: California DUI how much does it cost?