California law is tough on underage drinking and driving, and anyone under the age of 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system may be subject to severe penalties. The effects of a DUI conviction on a driving record of a young person can be particularly devastating, causing a negative impact the future of a young person’s personal and professional life. Beyond the fear of losing a license, facing jail time or paying fines, an underage DUI can have consequences on college or university admissions, as well as obtaining future jobs or professional certificates. If you or your child have been charged with DUI under the age of 21 in the State of California, these are all valid fears, but a DUI does not have to devastate a young person’s life.
Most people believe there is little negotiation or options once they or their child have been charged with underage DUI, but this is untrue. There are many legal strategies that could be applicable to your case as well as certain statutory protections provided by the law to protect minors through court proceedings.
It is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible following an underage DUI charge. To better understand why a lawyer might be helpful, it’s good to know how DUIs are categorized and what to expect after you or your child is charged with underage DUI.
Legal Categorizations for Underage DUI
For individuals under the age of 21, the law differentiates between three levels of intoxication. An individual whose blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) registered at .01 or higher will be subjected to California’s zero tolerance law. If convicted, defendants may face serious penalties including fines of up to $250 and potential license suspension for up to a year.
If the individual registers a BAC of .05 or higher, they may then be subject to an underage DUI charge. The potential consequences for this charge are relatively the same, with a suspended license for up to a year, comparable fines and possible enrollment in an alcohol education program. In addition to this, an underage DUI will result in 2 points on the driver’s record, which may more acutely affect insurance costs and could also lead to license suspension.
An individual who registers a BAC of .08 or higher, regardless of age, will be subject to a standard adult DUI charge. Under this charge, young adults will face fines between $350 and $1,000, license suspension, 3-5 years of probation and, if they are over 18 years of age, up to 6 months in county jail.
Accidents that cause injury or BAC levels above .08 will have higher fines, time in jail and license revocation penalties.
Seeking Legal Counsel Early
While it may seem as if these legal categories are unwavering, the truth is that there are many ways we can work with you to navigate the system and work to exclude certain pieces of evidence from the record. Seeking a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible is crucial. For instance, all drivers can legally challenge license suspension rulings, but drivers must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of a license suspension. In addition to this, the issuance of IIDs (ignition interlock devices) are becoming more common in California, as an alternative to license suspension. Many underage drivers facing DUIs or zero tolerance rulings may also negotiate for a restricted license that allows drivers to continue driving to work or school.
When you choose to work with the Law offices of Christopher J. McCann, we will carefully examine the evidence against you and your unique circumstances to form an effective defense strategy. We represent California clients in Orange County, Newport Beach, Fullerton, Santa Ana, and the surrounding areas. If you or your child have been charged with underage DUI, contact our office at 888-360-4256 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.