You may be old enough to vote, get married, or sign up for a credit card but Californians who are under the age of 21 are still not old enough to legally buy alcohol (or marijuana). Under-21 drivers are also subject to much stricter legal limits for driving under the influence (DUI).
Under California law, there is “zero-tolerance” for underage drunk driving. This means that even a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher can lead to a drunk driving arrest. One light beer may be enough to arrest an under-21 driver for impaired driving. A higher BAC could also subject the driver to more serious penalties.
If you were arrested and charged with an underage DUI in Livermore or Alameda County, contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
Refusing a Roadside Breath Test for Under-21 Drivers
Drivers who are 21 and older have the right to refuse a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. Drivers who are under 21 cannot refuse a PAS breath test. It often makes sense for drivers to refuse these tests because they can give off false readings.
Unfortunately for drivers who are not 21, refusing a roadside breath test can result in a license suspension for 1 full year, even if the driver had no alcohol in their system. A second refusal can result in a 2-year license revocation. A 3rd breath test refusal can result in a 3-year license revocation.
Zero-Tolerance for Underage Drivers
Under California Vehicle Code 23136, it is unlawful for a driver under the age of 21 to have a BAC of 0.01% or higher measured by a PAS or other chemical test. One beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of alcohol is enough to put most individuals over the limit for a zero-tolerance DUI, even if the driver never feels impaired.
Penalties for Under-21 DUIs
The penalties for an underage DUI depend on the driver's age, alcohol level, and other factors. In most cases, a zero-tolerance violation where the driver's BAC is under 0.01% generally results in a 1-year license suspension. However, an under-21 driver with a BAC of 0.05% or higher (but under 0.08%) can face a one-year license suspension, fines, and mandatory DUI school for alcohol education.
Any age driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher will face the misdemeanor DUI charges. The penalties for an underage driver are the same as for an over-21 driver. The penalties for a DUI include:
- License suspension for 6 months or one year for under 21 drivers,
- Fines of up to $1,000,
- DUI school, and
- Up to 6 months in jail.
Sentencing may be higher if there are aggravating factors involved, such as driving with a minor in the car, having a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or a DUI that results in an injury.
DUI Arrest and Booking in Livermore
Individuals who are arrested in Livermore for driving under the influence or drug DUIs may have been arrested by the California Highway Patrol, Alameda County Sheriff's Department or Pleasanton Police Department (CHP) or the Livermore Police Department. The Livermore Police Department is located at:
Livermore Police Department
1110 South Livermore Ave
Livermore, CA 94550
Phone: (925) 371-4900
If your son or daughter was arrested in Livermore for a DUI, you may be able to find out about where they are being held by contacting the Livermore Police Department. Most individuals are released within 24 hours of a DUI arrest, depending on when the arrest occurred. However, because most DUIs happen on the weekends and during the evening, it is common that the individual will have to spend the night in jail before being released the next day.
Call an experienced DUI lawyer who is familiar with Livermore DUIs and they will be able to get started on the case as soon as possible. If your child was arrested for an underage DUI, their DUI defense lawyer will be able to appear for them in court and fight the criminal charges to keep a conviction of their permanent record.
Most Livermore DUI arrests will be heard at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin, California.
East County Hall of Justice
5151 Gleason Drive
Dublin, California 94568
Appearing in Person On Your Court Date
Drivers who are 18 or older but under the age of 21 may not be able to legally drink in California, but they are still treated as adults when it comes to criminal charges. This means they will have to appear in court in person on the date of your hearing. A parent cannot show up for a child who is 18 or older. The only people who can represent you in court, under California law, is yourself or a licensed attorney.
When appearing for your first appearance, or “arraignment,” make sure you don't miss the court date and leave plenty of time for traffic, parking, and waiting in line to get into the courthouse. If you fail to appear in court, the judge may issue a “failure to appear” (FTA). An FTA could lead to additional penalties and a warrant for your arrest. If you cannot make it on the court date, you need to contact the court as soon as possible to request a change of your court date.
In most cases, your DUI defense lawyer will be able to appear in court on your behalf for an arraignment so you don't have to take time off of school or work just to sit around in court waiting for your name to be called. If you are a college student live out of state, contact your DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to make arrangements for dealing with your DUI arrest while out of state.
East Bay DUI Attorney for Under-21 Drivers
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands the consequences for young drivers after a DUI arrest. Representing young drivers in Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved.