High school and college students throughout California and the United States drink alcohol at parties and other social gatherings from time to time. However, one of the most common types of crimes from underage drinking is DUI. Getting a phone call in the middle of the night or early morning that your child has been arrested is a parent’s worst nightmare. The consequences of an underage DUI are severe and has a negative impact on a person’s personal life and professional reputation.
If you or your child are facing DUI charges in Orange County, our Newport Beach underage DUI defense lawyers at Right Choice Law can provide effective and experienced legal representation to obtain the most favorable outcome possible. With nearly eight decades of combined experience, we can thoroughly assess your case, figure out your legal options, and help you avoid harsh criminal penalties. Our firm is ready to fight for you throughout the legal process.
California has a zero-tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving. If a driver under the age of 21 has .01% or more BAC in their system, then they can be subjected to criminal and DMV penalties, depending on their blood alcohol level.
There are three California laws that cover underage DUIs:
Vehicle Code section 23136 – BAC .01% to .04%
Vehicle Code section 23140 – BAC .05% or more
Vehicle Code section 23152 – BAC .08% or more
An underage driver with any alcohol in their system has violated one of these laws. Both laws are only infractions which mean the maximum criminal penalty is a fine. However, the DMV will issue one year driver’s license suspensions for violations of these laws, pursuant to Vehicle Code section 13202.5. If you do not have a driver’s license, then the DMV will delay your opportunity to acquire a driver’s license by one year.
If your blood alcohol level is .08% or more, you can be charged with a regular DUI. However, since you’re under the age of 21, you will lose your driver’s license for a year, as required by Vehicle Code section 13202.5, and the court may impose additional penalties beyond the normal DUI sentence. It is possible to be charged with both Vehicle Code section 23140 and Vehicle Code section 23152. The District Attorney’s office will often charge both crimes when an underage driver’s blood alcohol limit is .08% or higher.
If you’re under the age of 18 and you are charged with DUI, then you will most likely be prosecuted in the juvenile courts. The procedure in juvenile courts is different from adult courts. Penalties for a juvenile DUI may be stiffer than for an adult DUI. You need an attorney that is familiar with the prosecution and defense of all DUIs, including juvenile DUIs.
Vehicle Code section 13202.5 requires the DMV to suspend the driver’s license of an underage defendant who commits certain crimes. An underage defendant is someone who at least 13 years old, but under the age of 21.
The most common crimes that require a one-year suspension are:
Business & Professions Code 25662 – minor in possession of alcohol
Penal Code section 647(f) – drunk in public
Penal Code section 191.5 – vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
Penal Code section 192.5 – vehicular manslaughter
Vehicle Code section 23152 – DUI
Vehicle Code section 23103 pursuant to 23103.5 – wet & reckless
Vehicle Code section 23140 – driving with BAC of .05% or more
The full language of Vehicle Code section 13202.5 is below:
(a) For each conviction of a person for an offense specified in subdivision (d), committed while the person was under the age of 21 years, but 13 years of age or older, the court shall suspend the person’s driving privilege for one year. If the person convicted does not yet have the privilege to drive, the court shall order the department to delay issuing the privilege to drive for one year subsequent to the time the person becomes legally eligible to drive. However, if there is no further conviction for an offense specified in subdivision (d) in a 12-month period after the conviction, the court, upon petition of the person affected, may modify the order imposing the delay of the privilege. For each successive offense, the court shall suspend the person’s driving privilege for those possessing a license or delay the eligibility for those not in possession of a license at the time of their conviction for one additional year.
As used in this section, the term “conviction” includes the findings in juvenile proceedings specified in Section 13105.
(b) Whenever the court suspends driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court in which the conviction is had shall require all driver’s licenses held by the person to be surrendered to the court. The court shall within 10 days following the conviction transmit a certified abstract of the conviction, together with any driver’s licenses surrendered, to the department.
(c) (1) After a court has issued an order suspending or delaying driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court, upon petition of the person affected, may review the order and may impose restrictions on the person’s privilege to drive based upon a showing of a critical need to drive.
(2) As used in this section, “critical need to drive” means the circumstances that are required to be shown for the issuance of a junior permit pursuant to Section 12513.
(3) The restriction shall remain in effect for the balance of the period of suspension or restriction in this section. The court shall notify the department of any modification within 10 days of the order of modification.
(d) This section applies to violations involving controlled substances or alcohol contained in the following provisions:
(1) Article 7 (commencing with Section 4110) of Chapter 9 of Division 2 of, and Sections 25658, 25658.5, 25661, and 25662 of, the Business and Professions Code.
(2) Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code.
(3) Section 191.5, subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 192.5, and subdivision (f) of Section 647 of the Penal Code.
(4) Section 23103 when subject to Section 23103.5, Section 23140, and Article 2 (commencing with Section 23152) of Chapter 12 of Division 11 of this code.
(e) Suspension, restriction, or delay of driving privileges pursuant to this section shall be in addition to any penalty imposed upon conviction of a violation specified in subdivision (d).
In addition to the criminal and DMV penalties, there are other penalties that a minor faces when convicted of a DUI. If convicted of an underage DUI, students must list their conviction on college applications which could severely impact their admissions to college. If a student is already in college, the school may impose additional penalties. The consequences are worse if the student intends to go to graduate school.
Some professions such as doctors and lawyers require a criminal background check and this conviction may impact your ability to become a professional. Therefore, it’s so important to speak with a reputable DUI defense lawyer who is familiar with underage DUIs.
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing an underage-DUI charge. Many minors and young adults who face underage-DUI charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of underage DUI, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. Our attorneys will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly. As former prosecutors we have the skills to negotiate with our former colleagues and the trial experience necessary to get the best results for our clients. For an example of our work, please see our case results and read our client testimonials.
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At Right Choice Law, all of our lawyers are former Deputy District Attorneys.
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