Underage drinking is common among high school and college students in California and throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in ten (10) teens in high school admit to drinking and driving.
Unfortunately, young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 years old are 17 more likely to die in a car accident when they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent—which is the legal limit for adult drivers who are 21 or older—compared to when they have not been drinking. Since drunk or drugged driving among young people is a nationwide issue, all states have enacted specific laws regarding underage DUI.
California has a “zero-tolerance” law, which means an underage driver can be convicted of an infraction if they have a BAC of at least .01 percent in their system. A conviction is punishable by driver’s license suspension for at least one (1) year. As you can see, there is no fine or jail sentence.
Additionally, if an underage driver has a BAC of at least .05 percent, he/she can be charged with “underage DUI.” This offense is also an infraction, which carries license suspension for at least one (1) year, a fine of up to $100, and mandatory DUI school for three (3) months or longer – with no jail time.
However, if an underage driver has a BAC of at least .08 percent or is impaired due to alcohol and/or drugs, then they will be charged with a “standard” (adult) DUI. A first offense is punishable by driver’s license suspension for one (1) year, a fine of up to $1,000, and a maximum jail sentence of six (6) months.
While a zero-tolerance offense will not result in points added to the individual’s record, an underage or standard DUI conviction carries two demerit points. For adult drivers, accumulating four (4) points within 12 months, six (6) points within 24 months, or eight (8) points within 36 months will lead to driver’s license suspension for six (6) months.
Regarding drivers under 18 years old, on the other hand, accumulating two (2) points within 12 months can result in a 30-day restricted license. Three points within a 12-month period can lead to license suspension.
If you or your child has been charged with a DUI offense in Oakland, call the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed at (510) 907-6600 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Also serving clients in Bakersfield, Berkeley, Richmond, Concord, and the surrounding areas.