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California Vehicle Code 23140 Under 21 DUI

California Vehicle Code Section 23140 VC is underage DUI law. Drivers who are under 21 years are not supposed to have any alcohol in their system when driving. A conviction for an underage DUI can result in loss of your license, fines, fees, and possible jail time. If your child was arrested on charges of 23140 VC, contact a local East Bay DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Vehicle Code 23140 VC Text 

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23140:  

It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

The penalties for an under-21 DUI infraction include a one-year license suspension, fines, and DUI school. 

Zero Tolerance Violation 

Under-21 drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of under 0.05 can still face penalties. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23136, it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 to have a BAC of 0.01% or higher. Under-21 drivers are also required to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device test. The penalties for a zero-tolerance violation is a one-year license suspension.    

Regular DUI for Under-21 Drivers

Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or higher or drivers who are under the influence of drugs can face regular DUI criminal charges. A regular DUI has more serious penalties than an underage DUI. 

Elements of the Offense

In order for the prosecutor to get a conviction for an underage DUI, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the case, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is any doubt that even one element is not met, then the defendant should be found not guilty. 

Vehicle Code 23140 VC

Under the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, to prove the defendant is guilty of VC 23140(a), the state has to prove: 

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle; 
  2. When he or she drove, the defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.05 percent or more by weight; AND
  3. At that time, the defendant was under 21 years old.

An individual turns 21 as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun. For example, a driver goes to a friend's house on the eve of his birthday. The driver begins to drink alcohol. The driver is about to head home at 11:59 p.m. A police officer sees the stumbling 20-year-old about to get into the car. At midnight, the driver gets into the car and starts it up. The police officer stops the driver on suspicion of a DUI. Even though the driver was 20-years-old when drinking, the driver turned 21 before driving, and would not be guilty of VC 23140. 

Defense Strategies for an Underage DUI in California 

In California, a driver is guilty of an under-21 DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% or higher. However, the chemical breath and blood tests used to calculate the driver's BAC are not always accurate. There can be a number of problems with the tests and samples that can lead to the conviction of an innocent person. Your DUI defense lawyer can challenge the use of these DUI test results

Human Error in Chemical Testing

Chemical tests are more accurate when the person performing the test follows all the rules. There are requirements and restrictions in using these tests that the police do not always follow. This includes observation requirements, time limits, sanitization, proper labeling, tracking samples, testing samples, and recording samples. A mistake, carelessness, or even intentional manipulation could result in inaccurate chemical test results. 

Machine Error in Chemical Testing

The testing machines are very sensitive scientific measuring devices. However, these devices need to be properly maintained, operated, and regularly calibrated to ensure that their readings can be relied upon. Even with proper use and maintenance, computer errors can give inaccurate test results. 

False Positives in Chemical Testing

Things other than drinking alcohol may show inaccurate results in a chemical test, including: 

  • Certain foods or drinks,
  • Gum or mints, 
  • Gastrointestinal problems,
  • Medication, and
  • Medical issues. 

Defense Lawyer for 23140 VC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

A BAC of 0.05% can result from just one alcoholic drink. It only takes a minor inaccuracy for a breath or blood test device to make the difference between a suspended license and an underage DUI. Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of DUI experience, is the Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and understands the consequences of an underage DUI for California drivers. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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