If you are under 21 years old, you are not allowed to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system. If you drink and drive, but have less than a .08% blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.), then you can be charged with violating California Vehicle Code section 23140. Section 23140 prohibits an individual under 21 years old from having .05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood from driving a motor vehicle.
The punishment for a violation of Vehicle Code section 23140 is different than for a DUI, i.e., driving with a .08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood. A DUI wherein the driver has a .08% B.A.C. can be charged with a misdemeanor offense and face up to 6 months in the county jail for a first offense. Whereas, a driver who is under 21 years old and who has a .05% B.A.C. or lower can only be charged with an infraction.
The infraction DUI offense is punishable by a fine of $100 under California Vehicle Code section 42001.25. With penalties and assessments, the fine usually adds up to around $500. Additionally, the under 21-year-old driver will be ordered by the court to attend a 12 hour DUI school, i.e., the education component of the DUI school. The court's authority for this order is under California Vehicle Code section 23502. Moreover, the driver will suffer a 1-year license suspension under Vehicle Code section 13202.5. The driver will not be able to get his or her license back unless the driver has an SR-22, which is a supplemental insurance policy for high risk drivers, and the driver has completed the 12 hour DUI school. (Cal. Veh. Code section 13352.6.)
Even though the driver's license may be suspended for 1 year, it is possible for that driver to get a “critical need to drive” license. The driver can request a critical need to drive license from either the court or the DMV. The court can grant a critical need to drive license pursuant to Vehicle Code section 12513. If the court denies the driver the critical need to drive license, the driver can still request the critical need to drive license from the DMV. The DMV is authorized under Vehicle Code section 13353.8 to issue a critical need to drive license to the under 21-year-old driver.
If you have been cited or arrested for an underage DUI, give us a call today. We can possibly help you to avoid a conviction or a suspension of your license.