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Juvenile and Underage DUI in San Diego

Any DUI incident can be an overwhelming experience, and the resulting penalties can be quite severe. A juvenile or underage DUI charge can be even more frightening and intimidating, and can impact the entire family. The legal, social, and economic consequences of any drunk driving conviction can affect an individual for many years.  For someone under the age of 21, it might mean having to make special arrangements to get to and from school/work, and can negatively affect your ability to secure future employment.

In the state of California, you may be charged with an underage DUI if you are under the age of 21 and operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. If you are under the age of 18 at the time of a DUI arrest, you may be charged with a juvenile DUI.

At the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm, we have decades of experience in handling Juvenile and Underage DUI cases, and we have produced favorable outcomes on numerous occasions.  If you, or a loved one, has been charged with an Underage or Juvenile DUI, do not take the situation lightly.  It is extremely important to consult with an attorney who has a thorough understanding of the applicable laws, and who has experience in successfully negotiating with prosecutors and district attorneys.  Our defense team will aggressively argue on your behalf at all stages of your case: the DMV Hearing, Plea Bargain Negotiations, Pre-Trial Hearings, and, if necessary, at Trial.  The San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm has the dedication and resources to treat you, and your case, with the attention it deserves.  Do not let this one mistake impact your life for longer than necessary. 

If after reading this article, you believe we could be of service to you, contact us as soon as possible to set up your FREE consultation.

Call the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm today at 619-535-7150.  

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

Under California Law (CVC 23136), it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher. The law in California is very strict when it comes to underage drinking and driving. It is considered an Underage DUI (CVC 23140) for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .05% or higher. Since the legal limit for minors is substantially lower than the limit for adults, one drink may put a minor over the limit.  Note that under these laws, further evidence of intoxication is not required. 

As mentioned above, the law in California is very strict when it comes to an underage DUI and a “zero tolerance” approach applies. This means, any form of alcohol, even medicines containing alcohol, and any amount whatsoever, is enough to put a minor over the legal limit. 

If you are pulled over for an underage DUI, just as you would with a normal DUI, you will most likely be given a roadside PAS test (preliminary alcohol screening test). The most common form of a PAS test is a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer measures the alcohol in your breath and then mathematically converts it to the equivalent in your blood. 

If you are arrested after the PAS test (preliminary alcohol screening test), you will often be given a post-arrest chemical test. This can be a DUI blood test or another breath test.

If you are convicted of an underage DUI, you can expect the following:

  1. Your license will be suspended for one (1) year by the California DMV. Keep in mind that you can challenge this DMV suspension, and our experienced attorneys can represent you at the DMV Hearing
  2. You will be fined $100 for a first offense.
  3. You will be ordered to attend alcohol education programs for at least three (3) months if you are over 18 years of age. 
  4. You could also be charged with possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21 per Vehicle Code 23224. A person under 21 cannot carry alcohol in their vehicle. There are, however, a few exceptions that make it okay for an underage person to have alcohol in their vehicle: 
  • A person under 21 can have alcohol in their vehicle if it is part of their job and the employer has a legitimate liquor license or, 
  • the container is untouched unopened and sealed or, 
  • the person under 21 is instructed by an adult to discard of the alcohol.

Possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21 (Vehicle Code 23224) is a misdemeanor, and the penalties are are actually much more serious than an underage DUI. If charged and convicted of possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21, you can expect the following:

  1. You will be fined up to $1000
  2. Your vehicle will be impounded for up to 30 days
  3. Your driver's license will be suspended for one (1) year.

Should you lose your license, our attorneys can assist you in getting a “restricted hardship license" for you to use during your license suspension. If you get a "restricted hardship license" you will be able to drive to school an/or work if you cannot find other transportation. 

These charges may not have long-term consequences if they are not quickly addressed by an experienced DUI attorney. Please contact us as soon as possible so we can begin working to get the charges dismissed.

If your BAC (blood alcohol count) is over .08% you will be charged with an adult or "standard" DUI under Vehicle Code 23152 regardless of your age. This is a much more serious charge, and you will be subject to the standard DUI penalties. These penalties for a first time DUI can include:

  • Up to six (6) months in jail;
  • Fines of up to $1,000;
  • Up to five (5) years informal probation;
  • Alcohol and/or drug education programs; and/or
  • Driver’s license suspension 

Legal DUI Defenses for Underage and Juvenile DUI

If you have been charged with an underage DUI, our attorneys at the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm can help you. Call us for a FREE consultation and we can begin to discreetly and respectfully investigate your case. Our attorneys are specifically trained and exclusively handles DUI and criminal defense cases throughout San Diego County. 

We can work with you to create a thorough, and effective defense strategy to help fight the charges. 

Common defenses for this type of offense include the following:

  1.    The traffic stop or arrest was unlawful.
  • An officer must have a reasonable belief, or reasonable suspicion, to pull you over. If we can find that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion that you were engaging in criminal activity when they pulled you over, the evidence they obtain after pulling you over can be suppressed, and it cannot be used against you. This could result in your case being reduced or dismissed.
  1.    You were not the one driving the vehicle.
  • If we can successfully prove that you were not driving the vehicle, this could result in your case being reduced or dismissed.
  1.    The DUI testing equipment was faulty or outdated, and therefore was unreliable.
  • In California a breath testing device must be calibrated every 150 uses or every 10 days, whichever comes first. If we find that the testing device was not correctly calibrated, this could lead to your case being reduced or dismissed. 
  1.    The person giving the sobriety test did not follow proper procedures. 
  • Some mistakes that people administering a breath test can make are not checking that your mouth is empty before the test and not attaching the mouthpiece correctly to the machine. If these errors are found to have been made during your breath testing, your case could be reduced or dismissed.
  1.   The person administering the sobriety test did not keep proper records.
  • The person giving the breath test must continually observe you for 15 minutes before the test. During those 15 minutes, you cannot smoke, eat, drink, burp or vomit. If we find that the administration was not done correctly, your case may be reduced or dismissed. 
  1.    You were on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet.
  • If you were on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet during the time of your arrest, you could argue that the breath test mistook the ketones that your body produced for alcohol. Ketones are also produced when someone is fasting or a diabetic. These are all issues that could factor into having your case reduced or dismissed.
  1.     Environmental factors interfered with the tests.
  • There are several factors that can be taken into consideration to explain poor performance on your field sobriety test. Possibly there was poor lighting in the area, or the test was given on an uneven surface, or you were wearing shoes that made the tests difficult.  
  1.    You had a specific medical condition at the time of the arrest, such as acid reflux or heartburn.
  • There are recognized medical conditions that can cause mouth alcohol confusion. If you have one of these conditions that causes acid to flow from the stomach into the mouth, it could contaminate your DUI breath test results. GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), heartburn and acid reflux have been know to cause a falsely high BAC on California breath tests. One of these conditions could help get your case reduced or even dismissed. 
  1.    The officers failed to properly and fully advise you of your legal rights.
  • It is required for an officer to advise you of your legal rights when you are arrested. When the officer begins their "custodial interrogation" they begin to ask you questions designed to get incriminating responses from you and they will use against you. If the officer does not read your rights, the statements that you make can possibly not be used as evidence and the case against you could be reduced or dismissed.
  1.   The alcohol present in your mouth was from another source, such as mouthwash.
  • Residual alcohol in the mouth can lead to a breath test reading higher than the person actually has in their system. Perhaps you drank cough syrup or gargled with mouthwash that contained alcohol. This could result in your breath test coming back abnormal. 
  1. Unlawful DUI checkpoint stop
  • California DUI sobriety checkpoints are strictly monitored by the state and must have a supervising officer overseeing the site as well publicly advertise the DUI roadblock. If we can find that the checkpoint did not follow any of the requirements this could lead to your case being reduced or dismissed. 

If you, or someone you know, was recently charged with a Juvenile or Underage DUI, contact the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your FREE DUI Consolation.

Our experienced team has attorneys with nearly 30 years of experience, and who have handled over 11,000 cases.  At the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm, we will not attempt to diagnose your case over the phone.  We place a tremendous amount of value in meeting with you face to face, so that we can properly address all of your questions, and provide you with a clear understanding of what to expect during the course of your case.  During your FREE initial consultation, we will consider the facts of your specific case, and discuss a number or defenses and strategies that might be available to you.  If you have been charged with a DUI, or related offense, we encourage you to call sooner, rather than later.  The sooner we can begin building your defense, the more likely it will be that we can get the DMV to set aside the suspension of your driver’s license, and get the prosecution to reduce, or even drop, the charges against you. 

Do not delay.  Contact the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm today at 619-535-7150 to set up your FREE DUI consultation.   

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