California’s public policy related to underage drinking and driving is based on zero tolerance. California teenage drivers fit within a special licensing classification and are considered Provisional Licensees. Teens with this type of license must follow all applicable provisions when operating a motor vehicle in California. These provisions include the hours of the day that teens may legally drive and who may accompany them as passengers.

California has the two following laws that address underage drinking and driving:

  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.

Both DUI laws apply to California drivers under 21 years of age and both may result in a one-year suspension of a driver’s license. 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. Both laws may apply even if the driver’s driving is not impaired by alcohol. An underage driver violates these laws simply by driving with the required blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Drunk drivers in California face a double-edged sword if accused of driving while intoxicated. Drivers who fail a blood alcohol test and have a BAC of .08 or higher may 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). Juveniles who have a BAC of .08 or higher may also be charged with violating both California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) and California Vehicle Code § 23152(b).

There are numerous defenses that drivers may raise to contest underage drinking and driving charges in California. Some of the most common DUI defenses include the following contentions:

  • There was no probable cause for the underlying traffic stop or DUI arrest;
  • The teen driver was not fully and clearly advised of his or her rights;
  • The defendant did not actually drive or operate the motor vehicle;
  • The driver had rising blood alcohol levels at the time of the DUI test, and his or her BAC was actually lower at the time of driving;
  • The DUI testing equipment did not work properly;
  • The individual administering the chemical test did not follow proper test procedures;
  • Results of the test for DUI were within the margin of error for an acceptable BAC result;
  • There was alcohol in the driver’s mouth from another source such as medicine or mouthwash;
  • The driver was on a high protein/low carbohydrate diet that may have misled the chemical test.
  • The driver had a medical condition such as acid reflux or GERD;

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.

Legal Defenses To Underage Drinking

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