Californians over the age of 18 can legally vote, be drafted to go to war, get married, and go into credit card debt but they are still not legally allowed to purchase or drink alcohol. Drivers under the age of 21 are also subject to much stricter impaired driving laws compared to drivers 21 and older.
Under 21 drivers are not treated the same as other drivers but they still have to right to a strong legal defense with an experienced East Bay DUI defense lawyer. If you were arrested and charged with an underage DUI in San Ramon or Contra Costa County, contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
Refusing a Chemical Test for Under-21 Drivers
The differences with an underage DUI start during the traffic stop. Adults 21 and older have the right to refuse to submit to a chemical test. However, drivers who are under 21 and suspected of being impaired by alcohol have to take the breath test.
A preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device is the portable breathalyzer-like test that the police carry around. These can provide basic alcohol-breath testing but there are a number of reasons why of-age drivers do not have to submit to them. The portable PAS devices are much more prone to error and can give off false readings or inaccurate estimates of a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
The police may ask a driver to give a PAS breath test but there are no consequences for refusing one of these tests. In most cases, a driver should refuse one of these tests. If necessary, it may be better to wait until the suspect is arrested and has to submit to a chemical test at the jail or police station. These tests after arrest are not voluntary and refusing can result in a one-year license suspension, even if the driver is not impaired.
Under-21 Drivers Must Submit to a PAS Test
For under-21 drivers, the PAS breath test is not optional. A young driver who refuses a PAS test can have their license suspended 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
Drivers over the legal age to drink have a legal BAC limit for a per se DUI at 0.08%. However, there is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. The law considers underage drivers to have no legal access to alcohol and any amount of alcohol in the driver's system is unlawful. 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.
Penalties for Under-21 DUIs
The penalties for an underage DUI depend on the driver's age, alcohol level, and other factors. A zero-tolerance violation where the driver's BAC is under 0.01% generally results in a 1-year license suspension.
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.
An under-21 driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher will face the same penalties as an over-21 driver facing a per se DUI. Under California Vehicle Code 23152(b), the penalties for a DUI include:
- License suspension for 6 months,
- Fines of up to $1,000,
- DUI school, and
- Up to 6 months in jail.
DUI Arrests and Court Appearances for San Ramon DUIs
Drivers arrested in and around San Ramon may be initially arrested by the San Ramon Police Department, located at:
Phone: (925) 973-2779
A driver's initial DUI court appearances for DUI arrests in San Ramon are generally handled at the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. The Martinez Superior Court is located at:
Phone: (925) 646-2986
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. Or to make it easy on yourself, call an experienced East Bay DUI defense lawyer who will generally be able to appear on your behalf.
East Bay DUI Attorney for Under-21 Drivers
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of DUI experience, and understands the consequences for young drivers after a DUI arrest. Representing young drivers in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved.