Underage DUI is a Driving offense that applies to drivers who are under the age of 21. Though the charge is not similar to a standard adult charge, it could incur penalties or lead to a sentence in severe cases. The DUI process can be long and tricky, and in some circumstances, could lead to a critical court battle. It is therefore essential to have all the necessary information concerning an Underage DUI charge and have the right legal team representing you. Our teams of lawyers at Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm specialize with DUI defense and will get you all the legal help possible. Below is all the information about Underage DUI ;

What is Underage DUI?

DUI is short for driving under the Influence. Underage DUI refers to the crime of operating a vehicle with a BAC level that is higher than 0.01% for drivers who are under the age of 21. BAC limit refers to the amount of alcohol present in the blood during a DUI arrest. The BAC limit is determined by undertaking a blood or breath test following a DUI arrest.

The law for Underage DUI falls under the vehicle code VC 23136. This code prohibits drivers below the age of twenty-one from operating vehicles with a BAC  limit that exceeds 0.01%. Violation of this code is considered a civil offense and not a criminal one.

However, a driver can also face charges for violation of the vehicle code VC 23140. Violating this code is considered a low-level criminal offense and may lead to severe charges. This code states that drivers should not operate a vehicle with a BAC level that is higher than 0.05%.

Standard Underage DUI Charges

VEH 23136 Zero Tolerance Law

Vehicle code 23136 in California refers to Zero tolerance for underage driving while intoxicated. You will be charged with an Underage DUI charge when you operate a vehicle with any detectable alcohol in your blood. Unlike ordinary DUI law, with this law, you do not necessarily need to be impaired or heavily intoxicated.

The code states that it is unlawful for a driver to operate a car with a BAC limit that exceeds 0.01%. The Percentage BAC limit for this charge is very low meaning that it is very detectable. This, therefore, means that a BAC test will quickly detect the presence of any alcohol in your blood. However, it is essential to note that the limit could come as a result of taking an alcoholic beverage or taking a medication drug and not necessarily direct alcohol.

The BAC limit test for an Underage DUI is similar to that of an adult charge. The police officer who pulls you over will request you to take a test to determine the level of alcohol in your body. The test will be done by either taking a blood test or blowing into a breathalyzer or a similar device. Breath tests are usually taken immediately you are pulled over, but blood tests have to be made in the hospital or police station for screening purposes. Unlike with adult DUI offenses, the Underage DUI offender is not given the option of refusing to take the BAC test. This is because the VC 23136 emphasizes on zero tolerance on underage drinking and therefore assumes that all drivers under the age of 21 have no right to decline the test. If under any circumstances, a driver refuses to take the test, his/her license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Similarly, the DMV will deny you the right to apply for a restricted license; hence meaning that you will not be allowed to operate any vehicle in California.

Since violating the VC 23136 Law is considered a civil offense, the only penalty will be the suspension of your driver’s license. The state will only expect you to attend a DMV hearing that in most cases is done over the phone. This hearing is meant to help you get your license back or block the automatic suspension of your license. Once an officer determines that you have a certain percentage of alcohol in your blood, he/she will forward your license to the DMV. The DMV will issue you with a temporary license to give you enough time to apply for a hearing. However, if you feel that your DUI process might have been flawed, you can hire an attorney to represent you. Our lawyers at Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm are competent and aggressive and will help you maneuver around your DMV hearing to help you get your license back.

VEH 23140 Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.05

If you commit a DUI offense and your age limit does not exceed 21, you may be charged with Violation of VC 23140. This code applies when a driver aged below 21 years operates a vehicle with a BAC limit that exceeds 0.05%. Unlike VC 23136, violating this code is considered a crime. This will mean that the DUI offender will be charged with two offenses, i.e., driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC limit above 0.05% and intoxication of an underage driver. However, you can only be convicted of one of the two offenses. The state will condemn you for violating the code VC 23140 and cite for VC 23136 violations.

The BAC tests for violation of this code are similar to all the other DUI offenses. The police officer who pulls you over will take you through the routine BAC tests. He/ She will then forward your details to the DMV for hearing. You will be issued with a temporary driving license to allow you to operate your car while attending your hearing.

The penalties for violating this code are more intense than the VC 23136 .the penalties include:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • A fine of $100 or more if you had a prior DUI conviction
  • Mandatory enrollment in an alcoholic program for a period not less than three months if you are 18 and above

In addition, your vehicle may be impounded for less than five days, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Your vehicle will be confiscated if;

  • You have a prior charge for Underage DUI under VC 23140
  • You have a previous conviction for a standard DUI
  • You BAC limit exceeds 0.10%
  • During the time for an arrest, you refused to submit to the BAC chemical test

Underage DUI Related charges

VEH 23152(a)  Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol

This standard DUI charge applies to all drivers regardless of their age. This means that you can also be charged with this offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI case and arrest. The VC 23152(a) code states that it is an offense to operate a car when you are mentally and physically impaired due to alcohol intake. The law also applies to the intoxication of drivers by the consumption of any other drug; whether medical or not. In addition, An underage driver may also face this type of charge when they operate a vehicle with a BAC limit that exceeds 0.08%.

Violation of this VC 23152(a) is considered a standard misdemeanor, and the penalties are more substantial than the ones for driving under the Influence. The penalties may sometimes vary from person to person, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. The penalties for violating this code include but are not limited to:

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended
  • Mandatory probation of between three to five years
  • Fines of between $390 up to $1000
  • Compulsory attendance on an alcohol program for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of nine months
  • A jail sentence of up to six months if you are over the age of 18

Violating this code is a serious offense that requires the best legal representation that one can afford. Hiring the right attorney, not only guarantees you a lighter sentence if convicted, but you may also have your case wholly withdrawn. At Orange County DUI Defense Attorney law firm, we have the best lawyers to represent you in your DUI case. The lawyers will evaluate your situation and come up with the defense that best suits your situation.

VEH 23224 Underage Possession of Alcohol in the Vehicle

This code states that it is illegal for an underage driver to be in possession of alcohol in his/her vehicle. When the police officer pulls you over and finds you in possession of alcohol, you may face the violation of the VC 23136 charge if you are drunk and breach of this code too. The charge is also sometimes coupled with the violation of the Vehicle code 23140 that talks about having a BAC limit of over 0.05%.

An underage driver is only allowed to be in possession of alcohol in the vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • The alcohol container is unopened, full and completely sealed
  • The underage driver is in the company of a parent or any other adult in the car
  • The juvenile driver is under the instructions of parents to get rid of the alcohol
  • The juvenile driver is on duty working for a person with a legitimate liquor license

Under no circumstances should the police officer ever find you in possession of unsealed alcohol without the company of an adult. Even if the police officer conducts a BAC test, and the results come out negative for alcohol intake, the state may still choose to charge you for possession. Though the charges may not be too heavy, violating this code is still an offense.

The penalties for this misdemeanor are:

  • Your car may be impounded for up to thirty days
  • Payment of fines up to 1000$
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to one year

VEH 23222 Driving In Possession of Marijuana

This vehicle code prohibits drivers from driving a car in possession of marijuana. The law states that it is an offense to drive a vehicle with an open container of marijuana or weed. The legal recreational limit allowed for marijuana possession is less than one ounce of pot or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. However, this limit does not apply to drivers under the age of 21, and possession of any amount could lead to an arrest. In case there is marijuana in the car, it should be put in a container, and the container should be sealed. Violating this law is an infraction and will incur some fines. The fine for being found in possession of marijuana is $100 or less depending on the circumstance. However, the offense could be aggravated if you are found to be intoxicated after having consumed marijuana. The penalties for operating vehicles while high on marijuana fall under the Vehicle Code 23152. You will, therefore, be charged with the violation of two different codes under the state laws.

VEH 23152 (f)  Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Although recreational marijuana is allowed in California, going below the accepted legal limits for recreation is an offense. Similarly; it is an offense to operate cars while intoxicated on marijuana. If a police officer pulls you over and determines that you are impaired to drive, then he/she will charge you with the violation of the code 23152 (F) VC.

In order for the prosecution team to find you guilty of marijuana intoxication, they will have to prove that your marijuana intake was too high. This proves difficult because there are no specific limits that are accepted by California when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana. Other states have a particular THC that allows drivers to operate vehicles while high, but this is not the case for California. THC stands for Delta -9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is  the main ingredient in marijuana that is psychoactive. In addition, it is challenging to measure THC because some strains of cannabis have a low THC and are high on a substance called Cannabidiol that is non-psychoactive.

It is not necessary to have a chemical test to measure marijuana. This is because the tests are not reliable, and the legal fraternity of California does not have a specifically allowed limit for driving under the influence of marijuana. The prosecution will, therefore, use the signs you exhibited that indicate that you were high. The signs the prosecution team looks for include:

  • Your driving pattern indicated you were high
  • Your statement to the police officer who pulled you over incriminated you of marijuana intoxication
  • The presence of marijuana in your car
  • Failing the field sobriety test conducted by the police officer
  • Your physical symptoms may have displayed intoxication, e.g., a fast heart rate, dilated pupils, red eyes, Marijuana smell coming from your mouth, rapid breathing, and a dry cottonmouth.
  • Evidence that indicates that you are a marijuana addict

In the event that a chemical test was done, it will be either a breath or blood test and in some circumstances a urine test. Most people choose breath tests over blood tests because they are less invasive. The only problem with these tests is that they are not exactly reliable. Blood tests are more reliable because marijuana does not dissolve as quickly as alcohol. Although the test is more efficient, it has a significant weakness. Since marijuana dissolves slowly in the blood, the tests may indicate a false positive. This happens because marijuana is detectable in the body for up to a period of one month after use. Urine tests are also unreliable because they test for the presence of marijuana for the past one month. Therefore, a positive in the urine test does not precisely mean the driver was operating the car under Influence. It is essential to remember that refusing to undertake a chemical test could aggravate your charges and lead to more severe penalties.

The penalties for Driving under the influence of marijuana are similar to those of operating on alcohol. The penalties will hence be different depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony DUI. Misdemeanors include a first DUI offense, the second and the third DUI offenses. The charges for all misdemeanors are almost similar. They include:

  • Informal probation that could last for up to five years
  • A jail sentence of between 96 hours and six months in a county jail for those above the age of 18
  • Fines of between $390 and $ 1000
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to six months

These penalties will slightly vary as the DUI offense progresses. The penalties will increase with every charge.

Although it is rare for a marijuana charge to be charged as a felony, in some circumstances, this may happen. This happens when a DUI with Marijuana causes death or injury. The penalties for Felony DUI under the Influence of marijuana include:

  • Formal probation for felony DUI
  • A jail sentence in a state prison
  • Suspension of license for up to a year or more
  • You may be charged with second-degree murder in the event death occurs

VEH 23221 Drinking Alcohol in A Motor Vehicle

An underage driver could also face charges for violation of the code 23221. This code states that it is unlawful for a passenger to drink alcohol in a vehicle on a public road or highway. Luckily, violation of this code does not carry severe penalties as other offenses.

However, the law does not apply to passengers who are on car hire. It only involves the drinking of alcohol by drivers in public vehicles. The state, however, takes this violation more seriously if the driver is below 21 years. Violation of this code will mostly be coupled with violation of law 23224 that prohibits minors from possessing alcohol in the car. The penalty for committing this offense is the suspension of your driver's license.

Underage DUI Defenses

Attorneys use DUI defenses to maneuver around all types of DUI charges. The defenses will hence be similar for all DUI cases regardless of the driver’s age. The ability of your lawyers to represent a good argument in court goes a long way in determining the outcome of your case. For your charges to be dropped or the penalties reduced, your attorneys have to convince the prosecution team and the jury that you did not commit the offense. The following defenses are used to maneuver around DUI charges:

  • The equipment used to administer the test may have been faulty
  • You were not driving when the police arrested you
  • The procedures used while conducting the tests were not correctly followed
  • The presence of alcohol in your mouth from a non-alcohol source, e.g., A mouthwash
  • Your traffic arrest was not lawful
  • Your BAC limit continued to rise when the test was being administered meaning you may have been operating with a less BAC
  • The Police Officer did not read your rights to you
  • Your diet intake consists of high proteins which are known to cause false positives in DUI tests
  • The Underage driver might have a medical condition that triggers a false positive on the test, e.g., acid reflux

If the circumstances surrounding your Underage DUI are similar to those mentioned above, then you should hire a lawyer to represent you. At Orange County Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have a group of skilled lawyers who will get you the legal help you need.

Find An Underage DUI Attorney Near Me

Hiring a competent DUI attorney for your Underage DUI charge is essential for your case. Since most people do not have the right information concerning Underage DUI, having the right lawyer advising you will help you understand the process and win a favorable outcome. Your attorney should be able to come up with an excellent legal defense to help you win your case or at least have your charges reduced. At the Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law firm, we have a team of great lawyers who pride themselves in the ability to offer an excellent legal defense. If you are facing an Underage DUI charge in Orange County or its surrounding areas, you can call us at 714-740-7866 to book an appointment.