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Los Angeles Underage DUI Attorney

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Underage DUI: Alcohol-Impaired Driving

Underage drunk driving is a serious issue affecting many teens and young adults. The legal age for drinking alcohol in California is 21 years in accordance with the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Unfortunately, statistics show that teen drunk driving is still a significant issue in the United States of America.

Because of this, several US states have zero-tolerance laws to deter underage drinking and driving under the influence (DUI), including California. These laws typically result in more severe punishments than those for adults who are arrested for DUI.

Driving under the influence refers to the act of an individual operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Blood alcohol limits (BAC) limits vary by state, but generally, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered a criminal offense for drivers over 21.

Underage drivers in California are subject to two types of DUI restrictions. Drivers under 21 can be convicted of a “zero-tolerance” offense if they have a BAC of .01% or an “underage DUI” if they have a BAC of .05% or higher.

Consequences of Underage DUI

In many states, the driver’s license will be suspended for a period, ranging from a few months to several years. Several factors determine how long an underage driver’s license suspension will last, including their blood alcohol content, their age, and their drunk driving history.

If a minor under the age of 18 is convicted of DUI in California, their driver’s license will be suspended for a full year, or until they turn 18, whichever is longer. Drivers older than 18 but under 21, who violate California’s zero-tolerance law will have their license suspended for one year.

In addition to the one-year administrative license suspension, underage drivers with a chemical BAC test higher than 0.05% must pay fines and attend DUI school.

When an underage driver operates a vehicle under the influence or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, they may be charged with a “standard” DUI and are generally subject to the same penalties as drivers over 21.

As a result, you could face jail time, fines and fees up to $1,000, a suspended driver’s license, DUI school, and probation. Some counties may require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in a vehicle.

As with standard DUI offenses, the penalty for underage DUIs only increases after the second or subsequent offense.

Opportunity Costs of an Underage DUI Conviction

A DUI conviction can result in a criminal record, which can follow an individual for the rest of their life. This can make it difficult for them to rent an apartment, get a job, or obtain certain professional licenses. In addition, it could affect their ability to enroll in college or other educational programs, or it could affect their current college program.

In some colleges and universities, a DUI can result in disciplinary action. University policies may impose sanctions on students for a DUI conviction, even if it occurred off-campus, such as probation, loss of privileges, termination from housing, suspension, mandatory alcohol/drug education, and even scholarship revocation. There may be additional punishments for student athletes.

In addition, prospective students may be required to disclose their DUI on their college or graduate school applications, even after fulfilling all the requirements associated with a DUI. Failure to disclose a DUI may result in expulsion.

Possible Defenses For Underage DUI

A person under the age of 21 who has been charged with a DUI in California may be able to challenge the charges and potentially obtain a favorable outcome. There are several possible defenses to underage drinking and driving, including:

Lack of Probable Cause

One possible defense strategy is to challenge the probable cause for the initial stop. Law enforcement officers must have a valid reason to stop a driver, and if there was no probable cause, any evidence obtained after the stop might be inadmissible in court.

Field Sobriety Test Issues

Another defense strategy could be to challenge the reliability of field sobriety tests. These tests are not always accurate, and many factors can impact a person’s performance on these tests.

Breathalyzer Issues

An experienced DUI defense attorney might be able to challenge the results obtained from a breathalyzer test if there were issues with calibration or administration.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

An experienced attorney may be able to successfully argue that charges should be dismissed in cases where constitutional rights have been violated, such as Miranda rights violations or improper searches and seizures.

Can an Underage DUI Be Expunged in California?

Usually, a DUI conviction stays on your criminal record indefinitely. If you are an underage offender 18 or older, your underage DUI will be added to your criminal record. A person convicted in California of a simple DUI can usually seek an expungement after their probation has ended. A juvenile DUI record may be permanently sealed, so if you were a minor at the time of the arrest, your record might be sealed.

Expunged records will not appear in a public search of your criminal record after they have been sealed. However, DUIs that have been expunged may still need to be disclosed in certain circumstances, but for the most part, you do not have to inform employers about them. Once your record has been sealed, you can legally inform employers that you do not have a criminal record.

In spite of your expunged record, law enforcement and federal agencies will still be able to access it. You may also be required to report a criminal conviction in order to maintain professional licensing.

Lastly, an expunged DUI will not be erased for the purpose of multiple DUIs. Multiple DUIs carry increased penalties and consequences in California. So, an expunged DUI will still count as a prior offense.

Can You Lose Your License for Being in Possession of Alcohol Even Though You Were Not Driving?

In California, the law prohibits individuals under the age of 21 from possessing and consuming alcohol, with few exceptions. If a person is caught in possession of alcohol while underage, they can face penalties such as fines, community service, and even suspension of their driver’s license.

Even if the individual was not driving at the time of the offense, they could still face consequences related to their driver’s license. This is because California has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving. Any prior alcohol-related offenses can result in more severe penalties.

Being arrested for a DUI or any other crime can have severe consequences. Therefore, it is crucial to seek the help of a qualified juvenile drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible. 

If you are underage and facing DUI charges. In that case, it is vital to openly discuss with your attorney any concerns regarding the potential impact a conviction or visits to the Van Nuys probation office may have on your financial aid, education, or career opportunities.

Contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for representation in Los Angeles criminal courts now and secure your future. Schedule a free consultation today!

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Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.