Criminal Defense AttorneyDUI Defense

California’s Zero-Tolerance Law For Underage Drivers

In California, teenage drivers belong to a special licensing classification called Provisional Licensees. Any teen holding this type of license must abide by those “provisions” applicable when operating a motor vehicle. These include the hours of the day that a teen may legally drive and who can accompany him or her as passengers. Another law that applies to provisional drivers, as well as all drivers under 21 years of age is California’s Zero Tolerance Law.

California’s two major laws directed at underage driving under the influence are the following:

  1. California Vehicle Code § 23136, California’s “zero tolerance” law (BAC of .01% or higher), and
  2. California Vehicle Code § 23140, underage driving with a BAC of .05% or greater.

California Vehicle Code § 23136 is a civil, not a criminal, offense. Thus, it is possible to be convicted of both California Vehicle Code § 23140 and cited for California Vehicle Code § 23136. Both DUI laws apply to juvenile California drivers under 21 years of age and both can result in a one-year suspension of an underage driver’s license.

It is important to note that both laws can apply if the driver’s driving is not actually impaired by alcohol. An underage driver violates these laws simply by driving with the applicable BAC – blood alcohol concentration. If an underage driver refuses to take a California DUI chemical test, his or her driver’s license will be suspended for at least one year.

The Zero Tolerance Law prohibits anyone under 21 years of age from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher. Under this law, on a first offense, driving privileges will be suspended for one year if a driver:

  • has a BAC of .01% or higher; or
  • refuses to take the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test; or
  • fails to complete the PAS test.

It is against the law for anyone under 21 years of age to purchase beer, wine, or hard liquor. It is also illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to have alcohol on their person or in their car unless they are accompanied by their parents.

Juveniles who have a BAC of .08 or higher may also be charged with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher).

John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

California’s Zero-Tolerance Law For Underage Drivers

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