My Underage Teen Got a DUI on New Year's Eve

My Underage Teen Got a DUI on New Year's Eve

Being a parent can be hard. And that only gets harder as your sweet baby boy or girl grows up and becomes an adult. Without a doubt, your children will stumble. But if that stumble found them in jail with a DUI arrest on New Year’s Eve, you’ll want to know what you should do next.

New Year’s Eve DUI for Underage Teen

If you get pulled over for impaired driving, you’ll want to know what you are facing. Below we outline the steps of a DUI investigation in addition to what you can do if a police officer pulls you over.

Driving While Under the Influence

Driving while intoxicated is “driving under the influence” or “DUI.” It’s defined as “operating a means of conveyance while excessive amounts of alcohol, or any kind of controlled substance, are present in the body.”

DUI is a serious and all too often a common offense. All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, have laws making it a crime for anybody to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% or higher if the person is 21 or older. If the person is under 21, it’s illegal to for them to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The BAC for a person under 21 is much lower than 0.08%.

The consequences of underage drinking and driving varies from state to state. California laws governing underage DUI are discussed below.

Statistics for Underage Drinking

Some statistics for drinking and driving include:

  • 28% of underage drivers, ages 15 to 20, who were killed in car accidents were drinking
  • In that same age range, 24% of male drivers are involved in DUI-related fatal accidents compared to 12% of female drivers who are involved in DUI-related accidents.
  • When polled, 28.5% of high school students in the U.S. admitted that at least once they rode in a car driven by a driver under the influence.
  • Adding to the danger, teenage drivers tend to not wear seat-belts if they have been drinking. In this age group, 74% of the drivers involved in fatal accidents did not have seat belts on when the impact occurred.

Statistics Improvement for DUI

Although the numbers may be shocking, they have been improving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that since laws were established for a minimum drinking age, over 24,000 lives have been saved. They estimate nearly 1,000 were saved in 2005 alone. Although there’s still a long way to go to improve these figures, the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2005 states the following:

  • 41% of children have drunk a few sips of alcohol by the 8th grade, and 20% of them have admitted to being drunk at least once.
  • 75% of high school seniors say they’ve consumed more than a few sips by the time they graduate, and 5% of them have admitted to being drunk at least once.
  • Approximately 10.8 million people between 15 and 20 had said they’ve drunk alcohol in the past month, 18.8% of which were binge drinking. 6% have admitted to being heavy drinkers.

Zero Tolerance Police for California Underage DUI

California has a zero tolerance policy when it involves underage drinking while driving. This means if you are an underage driver and drinking you are guilty when you are under 21 and drive with detectable alcohol in your system.

Ramifications of Charges for Underage DUI

There are many and ramifications if a person is charged with underage DUI.

There is a mandatory one-year license suspension whether you are “legally” drunk or not. This means you have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.

Based on your blood alcohol content and driving history, below are some things you could face:

  • $100 or more fine,
  • Mandatory school for DUI,
  • 3-5 years probation for DUI, and /or
  • Jail time.

Additional charges in California for underage drinking and driving apply. For a typical arrest for underage DUI you will be charged with each applicable law, even if they appear to be duplicates. Some of the more common laws for violating underage drivers include:

  • Vehicle Code 23136 covers drivers under 21 with BAC of 0.01% or more. Violating this isn’t a crime, but the penalty is a suspension of your driver’s license of one year.

  • Vehicle Code 23140 covers drivers under 21 with BAC of 0.05% or more. This is an infraction but doesn’t include jail time. Penalties include:

    • Driver’s license suspension of one year if it’s a first offense,
    • $100 fine if it’s a first offense, and
    • Mandatory alcohol education program for three or more months if you’re over 18.
  • Vehicle Code 23152 covers driving at any age while:

    • impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, or
    • having a BAC of 0.08% or more;
    • Under California law it’s a misdemeanor with the following penalties for first time offenders:
      • Driver’s license suspension,
      • 3-5 year informal (i.e., “summary”) probation,
      • $390 to $1,000 fine,
      • 3 to 9 month education program for drug and/or alcohol, and
      • Up to six months in custody.
  • Vehicle Code 23224 – If under 21 you are not permitted to carry alcohol inside a vehicle except in the following situations:

    • the container is full, sealed, and unopened, and
    • they are:
      • accompanied by parent or other specified adult,
      • a parent or adult told them to get rid of the alcohol, or
      • it is part of their job to carry it and they’re working for a person who possesses a legitimate liquor license.
    • This is a misdemeanor with the following penalties:
      • Vehicle will be impounded up to 30 days,
      • A $1,000 or more fine, and
      • Suspension of driver’s license for one year.

If you injure or kill somebody will driving under the influence you can face additional misdemeanor or felony charges. This applies at any age.

Additional Underage Drinking Consequences

In addition to the above, if you’re convicted of these charges you must report this information on college or employment applications in the criminal history section. It also counts toward the score of your criminal history if you are then convicted in a federal crime.

Underage Drinking Defenses

You need to immediately call a DUI defense attorney if you have been arrested and charged with underage drinking. California DUI charges had numerous defenses which a DUI attorney can use to fight the charges. Some of these defenses include:

  • You were not the one driving
  • The testing equipment for DUI was not properly working,
  • The person who performed the DUI chemical test did not follow the proper procedures,
  • You were within the margin of error for an acceptable BAC result,
  • Your BAC was rising at the time the test was done, which could indicate it was lower while you were driving,
  • There was another alcohol source – as in mouthwash,
  • You had a medical condition such acid reflux or GERD,
  • You were on a diet of high protein / low carbohydrate,
  • Your traffic stop was unlawful,
  • Your arrest was unlawful,
  • The officer did not advise you of your rights.

If you’ve been accused and charged with DUI, an experience DUI defense lawyer such as Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers, can help negotiate to get your charges reduced. A DUI charge has many complications making it difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced and skilled DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer can also help remove the stress and difficulty relating to being accused of a DUI. Contact Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers, today for a free consultation.

Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers

Criminal Defense Attorneys

3555 4th Ave.

San Diego, CA 92103

Phone: (619) 297-2800