Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I am twenty years of age. I was arrested for a California DUI. I am wondering what will happen to me now and what steps I need to take. Do I need to talk to a DUI lawyer?”
It’s estimated that more than three thousand teenagers die each year in drunk driving accidents. Unfortunately, the risks are even higher for younger drivers aged 16-20 years of age. Whether it’s driving too fast, taking too many risks, or generally using less caution, it’s not unusual for teenage drivers to be at higher risk for death or injury.
Over the last thirty years powerful lobbying groups and state representatives have taken steps to reduce the death of teens. One of the first efforts was the passage of zero tolerance laws in each state. Under these laws, drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI with any detectable level of alcohol in their blood, regardless of whether they were able to safely operate their motorized vehicle.
California DUI laws for minors
So, what charges are you likely to face if you are arrested for DUI? DUI laws for minors in California are codified under several statutes. For example, under Vehicle Code 23136 drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI if they operate their vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .01% or greater.
Drivers can also, however, be charged with additional fines and penalties under Vehicle Code 23140 if their BAC is 0.05% or higher – as opposed to the illegal limit of 0.08% for drivers over the age of 21. Finally, minor drivers who are operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol limit of 0.08% or higher may be charged with a standard “adult” DUI under VC 23152(b).
Penalties for DUI minors after arrest
Fines and penalties for a California DUI charge will vary based on what vehicle code section you are charged under. For example, if you are charged under VC23136 you may receive a one year license suspension. If you are charged an underage DUI under VC23140 you may receive a one year license suspension, a $100 fine, and be required to take an alcohol education program.
Finally, if you are charged with a standard adult DUI because your BAC was 0.08% or higher, you may face much more severe penalties including a driver’s license suspension, three to five years of probation, fines of $300 to $1000, mandatory attendance in an alcohol education program, and up to six months in a county jail.
Defense against minor California DUI
If you have been arrested for California DUI as a minor it’s generally a good idea to discuss your case with a DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer can review common defenses with you which can include the defense that you were not driving, the chemical test was done improperly or with defective equipment, your BAC reading was inaccurate due to the rising BAC defense, the police made an unlawful traffic stop, or the police failed to notify you of your legal rights.
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