Underage DUI: What to Expect

In many states, those under 21 who are driving can't legally have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.01%. This law applies to California as well. California is a zero-tolerance state, which means if you are caught driving with any amount of alcohol in your blood, you could face severe penalties.

The 1st time you are arrested for a DUI, you could get from 4 days to 6 months in jail and be fined anywhere from $1,400 to $2,600. Your license will also be suspended from 1 to 10 months. The 2nd time you are arrested, you could face from 10 days to 1 year in prison, a fine from $1,800 to $2,800, and license suspension for up to 2 years. While it is not typically a criminal offense, you might face jail time if your BAC is significantly above the legal limit for people over 21. The court might decide to try you for a standard DUI, which is a misdemeanor and comes with significantly higher punishments. You may also be forced to attend an alcohol awareness program.

Additionally, DUI law doesn't always depend on BAC. Even if your levels were below 0.01%, if the alcohol caused you to drive dangerously or recklessly, this could count as a DUI charge on its own, the penalties of which are identical to those of a BAC of 0.08% or more.

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you could also be looking at additional charges, such as:

  • Soliciting alcohol
  • Minor in possession
  • Child endangerment law violations
  • Possession of a false identification card
  • Moving and vehicle maintenance violations
  • Distributing alcohol to other minors

All of these charges come with their own penalties, and they could be added to the jail time or fines that you might already be sentenced with. Likewise, if you are arrested for an underage DUI, some insurance companies may terminate your policy or refuse to renew it. Other companies simply raise the cost of the premium by $100 to $200, or more, to insure what they consider a higher-risk individual.

Likewise, you could face other consequences socially. Colleges and employers are allowed to ask about your criminal history on admissions and employment applications. When applying, you are required to disclose any convictions. Because people often view a criminal record as a marker for irresponsibility or untrustworthiness, you might be passed over for admission or a job based on your DUI conviction.

The best thing to do in this situation is to call an experienced Newport Beach underage DUI lawyer. You could stand to lose a significant amount of money if you have no way to defend yourself against the charges in court. It is possible to beat a DUI charge, even if you're underage. Experienced lawyers know several defense tactics they could use to help defend you, including dubious breath and blood-test evidence or questioning the legality of your being pulled over to begin with. As a young person, you may also be granted leniency by the court, particularly if this is your 1st conviction. A judge may view your behavior as a single, foolish mistake, which you will likely attempt to avoid in the future. However, with a 2nd or 3rd conviction, the court might be less forgiving.

Calling the Law Office of Frances Prizzia may benefit your case. The founding attorney, Frances-Marie Prizzia, has dedicated her career to upholding the constitutional rights of her clients and zealously defending them. Contact her at (888) 392-8114 or fill out the online form to schedule a case consultation today.

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