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What Are the Consequences for a DUI in High School?

High school students in California have a lot to worry about, with social relationships, applying to college, or balancing working a part-time job. Dealing with a drunk driving arrest is not something high school students should have to think about. However, drivers who are still in high school can get pulled over, arrested, and charged with a DUI. 

An underage DUI in the East Bay may have different challenges than other impaired drivers. A DUI arrest can mean losing your license, disciplinary measures from your school, and could impact your future educational opportunities. Just because your teenager got arrested for a DUI does not mean they have to have a conviction. If you want to know about how you can avoid a criminal conviction and keep your record clean after a DUI arrest, talk to your experienced East Bay DUI defense attorney for help. 

Underage DUI in the East Bay

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.” A teenager with a 0.05% BAC can face an underage DUI infraction.

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. The penalties for a zero-tolerance violation is a one-year license suspension. Drivers under 21 also have to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, sometimes known as a breathalyzer. Refusing to submit to a chemical test can also result in a license suspension.    

However, if a teenager is impaired by drugs, a combination of drugs and alcohol, or has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they can face criminal misdemeanor charges, just like any other California driver. A full DUI has more serious penalties, which can include higher fines and jail time. 



California Vehicle Code


Zero Tolerance Violation

VC 23136



VC 23140

0.08% or higher

Misdemeanor Offense

VC 23152

Losing Your License After an Under-21 DUI

One of the hardest penalties associated with a DUI is the loss of your driver's license. Most teenagers are excited to get their license and have the freedom of being able to drive around and not rely on rides from their parents or taking the bus. After getting your license, it can be taken away after a drunk driving arrest. 

For drivers under the age of 18, their license can be suspended for a full year, or until after they turn 18. Even drivers who are over 18 but under 21 are not supposed to have access to alcohol, and can be hit by California's zero tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving. 

The California DMV will administratively suspend your license after an impaired driving arrest. To get your license back, you will have to pay any fines, complete California DUI school, and wait out the mandatory suspension period. 

Do I Have to Disclose a Drunk Driving Arrest on My College Applications?

Getting into college can be stressful. California has some of the most competitive universities in the country and any small disadvantage can mean the difference between getting in and getting denied. Some college applications may have questions about criminal convictions or arrests. You should be honest about filling out these applications. If you provide false information on your college application and the school finds out about it, you can be kicked out of school. 

A drunk driving arrest or conviction can impact your university admissions application and scholarship opportunities. If you are not sure whether you have to admit to an arrest or a DUI that was cleared from your record, you can talk to your California DUI attorney about the disposition of the charge and what it means for future questions about your criminal history.  

Defending Against an Underage DUI in California

An arrest does not mean you have to be convicted. In order to be convicted of a crime in California, you have to be found guilty or plead guilty. If you take your case to court, your experienced trial attorney can challenge the prosecutor to help keep your record clear. There may be a number of defenses available to DUI charges in California. 

California DUI charges often rely on chemical testing that is done after the arrest. The police may have the driver take a breath test using a chemical test device. This test can be used as evidence of the driver's blood alcohol level. However, these tests are not always accurate. There can be problems with the machine, improper maintenance, or problems with the way the police officer conducted a chemical test. Your attorney can challenge this evidence to show it was unreliable and should not be relied on to prove impairment. 

The arresting officer may try and gather other evidence to show the driver was impaired, including conducting standardized field sobriety tests (SFTS). These roadside tests include: 

The police like to use these tests to show that a driver is impaired and unable to drive safely. However, there are problems with these tests that allow sober drivers to “fail,” and allow impaired drivers to “pass.” Police officers are trained to look for signs of impairment but may improperly fail the driver if the officer fails to give the driver proper instructions, fail to properly observe the test, or does not account for medical or environmental conditions. 

East Bay Teen DUI Defense Attorney 

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 38 years of DUI experience and understands the defenses that work in underage California DUI cases. Representing young drivers and their families in Oakland and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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