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Underage and Juvenile DUIs

All criminal charges are frightening for a family, but criminal charges against your child can be significantly more worrisome for a family. This is appropriate because the consequences of a criminal conviction for a minor can follow them for the bulk of their formative years, and no family wishes that on their children. If the Defendant is between the age of 18 and 21 at the time they are arrested for driving under the influence, they will face of a charge of underage DUI.  If the Defendant is under the age of 18 at the time they are arrested, they will be charged with a Juvenile DUI.California has what is known as a “zero tolerance” Law.

California has what is known as a “zero tolerance” Law.

Pursuant to California Vehicle Code §23136, it is a punishable offense for an individual, who is under the age of 21, to drive a vehicle when their blood alcohol concentration level is 0.01% or above. California law is very strict when it comes to underage drinking, and has adopted a “zero tolerance” approach. Underage DUIs are also defined by California Vehicle Code §23140, and prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher. Since the limit is much lower than the legal limit for adults over 21, it is possible that even one drink could put an individual above the legal limit for their age. 

California’s “zero tolerance” applies to all alcohol, this means medication which contains alcohol; it is not the same as the rule for adults. 

In the event that an officer stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence, they will typically conduct something referred to as a “preliminary alcohol screening test” or “PAS test.” The typical PAS test the officer will conduct is a breathalyzer test. If the results of the test provide the officer with probable cause to arrest you for an underage DUI, they will often give you another test after you have been arrested. Generally, this will be a blood test, or a second breathalyzer test.

What can I anticipate if I am convicted of an underage DUI?

  1. First, your license will be placed in suspension for at least one year pursuant to the rules of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California. You have the option to challenge the DMV on their decision to suspend your license. Hiring an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will give you the best opportunity to win your hearing with the DMV. 
  2. The Court will impose a monetary penalty of $100 if this is a first offense.
  3. If you were over the age of 18 at the time you were arrested, you will be forced to participate in alcohol education for a minimum of 3 months. 
  4. It is also possible that you will face a charge for violation of California Vehicle Code §23224; the prohibition against a person under the age of 21 carrying alcohol in their vehicle. There are certain exceptions to this prohibition, a few of which are set forth below:
    1. If the reason that the alcohol is in the vehicle of someone’s vehicle that is under the age of 21, is for part of their employment and the employer has a legal liquor license, you cannot be convicted of this crime.
    2. The alcohol was sealed, unopened, and untouched; you cannot be convicted of this crime.
    3. The individual is younger than 21, and an adult has instructed them to get rid of it.    If you are charged with violating California Vehicle Code §23224, you will be charged with a misdemeanor; the penalties are much less severe than an underage DUI conviction. If you are convicted of possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under the age of 21, you can anticipate the following penalties:
      1. You may face fines of up to $1,0002.
      2. . Your car will be sent to the police impound for a maximum of 30 days.
      3. . The DMV will suspend your driver’s license for at least a year. In the event that the DMV suspends your license, and your attorney does not win at a DMV hearing, the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will fight for you to obtain what is called a “restricted hardship license” so you will be able to drive to school and work. As mentioned above, a conviction of either underage DUI, or possession of alcohol, can have a long lasting impact on your life. Contact one of our attorneys immediately; the consequences of a conviction do not have to haunt you for the majority of your formative years. We have the experience and the skill to effectively fight the charges against you and in a perfect world get the case dismissed. In the event that the result of the PAS test is over 0.08%, you will be charged with the “adult”DUI, set forth in California Vehicle Coe §23152. This will occur no matter what your age is; you will also face the standard penalties associated with an adult DUI:
        • A maximum of 6 months incarceration
        • A monetary penalty of up to $1,000
        • The possibility of a maximum of 5 years on informal probation
        • Drug/alcohol education programs
        • DMV license suspension

Legal DUI Defenses

In the event that you have been charged with underage DUI, our competent counsel can effectively represent you. Contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firmfor a FREE consultation. We will promptly and discretely begin building the strongest case available in your defense. Our attorneys have experience and training representing clients in DUI cases in Los Angeles County.

While it is the Prosecution’s responsibility to prove that you were under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt, it is helpful to have theories of defense prepared for the case as well.

There are many legal defenses to a DUI, but certain defenses are more successful than others:

  1. The arrest, or the stop, was in violation of your Constitutional rights.  
    • In order for an officer to pull you over, they must have a reasonable belief, or a reasonable suspicion, that you were performing an act prohibited by law at the time they pulled you over. If they can’t identify why they pulled you over in the first place, then they have violated your Constitutional rights, and any evidence obtained after the stop must be suppressed.
  2. Someone else was driving the car.  
    • While it seems straightforward, sometimes officers are so intimidating that the Defendant believes they may have actually done something wrong, but a DUI can only occur if you were the one driving.
  3. Whatever the officer used to conduct the PAS test, or the test post-arrest was defective. 
    • Pursuant to California law, all breathalyzers must be calibrated every 10 days, or after 150 uses, whichever comes first. If this did not happen, your attorney can have the breathalyzer results thrown out, which could result in your case being dismissed.
  4. The officer did not follow procedure when conducting a sobriety test. 
    • There are a lot of mistakes an officer can make when conducting the test to determine your sobriety. Failing to check to see if there is anything in the person’s mouth, failing to wait 15 minutes, not attaching the mouthpiece correctly, and many others. If it is show that the test was not conducted properly, your attorney will have that evidence excluded from evidence, and the Prosecutor will have a much harder time proving their case. 
  5. There were external factors, which interfered with the test.
    • There are a number of things outside of the test itself that could result in an individual failing a sobriety test. Some examples of external factors would include where the test was given, what the lighting was in the area where the test was conducted, the shoes you were wearing and much more.
    • As mentioned above, sometimes the arresting officer is just an intimidating individual, and that intimidation affected your performance on the test.
  6. You suffered from GERD or acid reflux at the time the test was conducted
    • There are a few well documented conditions which can cause alcohol to be present in your mouth at the time of the test, which would result in an artificial result. If this occurred, the results of the test are unreliable and cannot be used to form the basis of a DUI conviction.
  7. The officer did not tell you what your legal rights were
    • After arrest, and prior to what is known as a “custodial interrogation”, an officer must read you your Miranda rights. A “custodial interrogation”occurs when an officer asks questions with the purpose of obtaining incriminating answers. If your Miranda rights have not been read to you before the interrogation, any responses to those questions are inadmissible in Court, and may put the Prosecutor in a difficult situation.

There was an illegal DUI checkpoint Pursuant to California law, DUI checkpoints are closely monitored by the state. There are two restrictions the state has imposed on DUI checkpoints, which could form the basis of this defense. First, the must be an officer, who is acting in a supervisory role for the entire DUI checkpoint site. Second, the DUI checkpoints must be available to the public. If you attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm is able to show that the checkpoint was non-compliant with the regulations in any manner, your case may be dismissed, or the charges may be reduced. 

If you have been charged with an underage DUI, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm. We specialize in representing clients accused of driving under the influence, and have obtained favorable outcomes over the span of 30 years. We have a proven track record, and intend to continue our tradition of excellent representation at an affordable price.

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