California laws regarding DUI and drivers under the age of 21

underage drinking and drivingCalifornia laws regarding dui and drivers under the age of 21. In late September of 2014, officers placed a 16 year-old under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and several other offenses. The teen allegedly stole a vehicle from a family member around 4:00 in the morning in South San Francisco and proceeded to lose control of the car on Mayfair Avenue. This resulted in a collision involving three different parked vehicles. The teenage driver fled the scene of the accident, though law enforcement officers caught and arrested him in a short amount of time following the crash.

Charges the Teen May Face

California laws regarding DUI and drivers under the age of 21 are very strict. California maintains a “zero tolerance law,” which allows an underage driver to be convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of only 0.01%. Almost any amount of alcohol can cause that BAC, which means that drivers under 21 should never drive after drinking any amount at all.

The penalties for underage drinking are severe and include the following:

  •         Four days to six months in jail;
  •         $1400 to $2600 in fines;
  •         Suspension of driver’s license for 30 days to ten months; and
  •         Substantial increase in insurance rates or even termination of insurance coverage for the underage driver.

Note that these penalties increase for a second underage DUI offense, and repeat offenders may face up to a year in jail, up to $2800 in fines, and a two year suspension of their driver’s license.

Penalties may also become substantially more severe if any aggravating factors exist. Aggravating factors may include an especially high BAC, the presence of a minor as a passenger during the DUI, refusing to submit to requested chemical tests, causing personal injury, and more. One such aggravating factor is causing property damage in the course of a DUI. Since this particular teenage driver likely caused damage to his relative’s vehicle, plus three additional parked cars, the court may likely find that an enhanced sentence applies in this situation.

In addition to underage DUI charges, the 16 year-old in the above scenario may also face additional charges and penalties. Such charges may likely include:

  •         Possession of a stolen vehicle;
  •         Hit and run; and
  •         Violation of curfew.

If convicted of all of these charges in addition to underage DUI, the teen is likely facing severe consequences.

Being a parent of a child charged with DUI is never easy. Not only is it exceedingly stressful to take your child to criminal court and worry about possible jail time, probation, or other sentencing possibilities, but the court fines will likely cost you thousands of dollars.

In order to make sure that your child’s rights are fully protected in every court proceeding, and that he or she receives the best possible outcome in a DUI case, you should always consult with a highly experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. At the office of Beck Law P.C. in Santa Rosa, California, we develop aggressive defense strategies for every client and walk you through the criminal justice process. Call us today for assistance.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and any blogs, reviews, news or testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California. by Attorney Daniel B. Beck