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Orange County Underage DUI Attorney

Arrested for under 21 drinking and driving?

The state of California takes a zero-tolerance approach to drinking and driving for those under the legal drinking age of 21. If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI, you are under 21, and you test positive for any measurable blood alcohol concentration (as little as 0.01 percent) then you can be arrested for DUI. According to the California Vehicle Code, those under the age of 21 are subject to testing by means of the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test.

According to the California Vehicle Code § 23136:

(a) Notwithstanding Sections 23152 and 23153, it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle. However, this section shall not be a bar to prosecution.
(b) A person shall be found to be in violation of subdivision (a) if the person was, at the time of driving, under the age of 21 years, and the trier of fact finds that the person had consumed an alcoholic beverage and was driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test.

Although the PAS test is a field sobriety test rather than a chemical test (such as the breathalyzer), it is unlawful for someone under the age of 21 to refuse this type of screening if a law enforcement official is under reasonable suspicion that they are driving under the influence. However, i f the individual has not been lawfully detained for an alleged violation, then PAS testing is not permissible. Like all other drunk driving arrests, the arresting officer must have had probable cause to stop the vehicle, else this be a violation of the driver's legal rights.

Penalties for Under 21 Drunk Driving in Orange County

If you were arrested for even 0.01 percent BAC while operating a motor vehicle and are under the age of 21, then you could face:

  • Up to one year of license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol education
  • 48 hours to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $1,800 in legal fees

According to § 23140, if the driver's BAC was 0.05 percent or higher at the time of the stop, then the penalty could be mandatory alcohol education or rehabilitation program in addition to a one years' license suspension. If the driver is under 21 and they are tested for .08 percent or higher, they face the penalties of a regular DUI as would a driver of any age who was arrested for 0.08 percent BAC.

Underage DUI Defenses

There are actually many defenses against underage DUI charges. Since there must only be 0.01 percent alcohol tested on a driver's breath to constitute an under 21 DUI, and the margin of error for these PAS and other breath tests is greater than this, your attorney could potentially make the case that the alcohol screening system was flawed or registered an inaccurate reading. We could also make the case that there was an unlawful police stop.

Call Our Orange County DUI Lawyers

Gold & Witham is prepared with more than 40 years of legal experience to defend your drunk driving charges. When DUI has the added element of underage drinking and driving, you need a customized defense strategy. Our firm is committed to getting to know you and your situation so we can help you get the best possible result.

To learn more about how Gold & Witham may be able to assist with your under 21 DUI case, contact the firm today for a free consultation.