Minors in California who drive after drinking any amount of alcohol may be charged with DUIs. Like other states, California has a zero-tolerance law in place for underage drinking and driving.
In all of the states, it is illegal for people who are under the age of 21 to purchase alcohol. While adults who are age 21 or older are able to drive as long as their blood alcohol concentrations are below 0.08 percent, minors are not allowed to drive if they have any amount of alcohol in their systems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one-third of the traffic fatalities involving minors between the ages of 15 and 20 are alcohol-related. Federal law requires the states to set a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent or lower for drivers who are younger than 21. Some states have lower per se limits. In California, for example, the state's zero-tolerance law sets the per se limit for minors at 0.01 percent. This means that minors who drive with alcohol in their systems may be charged with DUI offenses even if they do not feel intoxicated.
Getting a DUI conviction as a minor can have far-reaching consequences. People who are convicted of underage drinking and driving may lose their driving privileges, face jail time and be forced to pay substantial fines. The penalties for DUI may also cause collateral consequences such as job losses. People who are facing DUI charges might benefit from getting help from experienced criminal defense lawyers. The attorneys may work to secure alternative sentences such as probation instead of jail. They might also be able to secure plea agreements to lesser charges. Finally, the attorneys may be able to win dismissal of the charges if the police made mistakes with the manner in which they conducted the stops, searches and seizures.