Driving under the influence, or DUI, is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In California, a DUI requires a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, at 0.08 percent for drivers over the age of 21 years old. But California also has zero tolerance for underage drinking.

What is Zero Tolerance?

Zero tolerance makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 years old to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. 

What is the BAC level for Drivers under the Age of 21 Years Old? 

The BAC level for underage drivers is any measurable amount. This means a BAC level above 0.01 percent.

Will My Driver’s License be Suspended?

Yes, any underage driver convicted of DUI will have their driver’s license suspended for at least one year. 

Will I Have to Appear in Criminal Court and a DMV Administrative Hearing for Underage Drinking?

Yes, all drivers accused of DUI will face criminal charges and a DMV hearing. The hearing can suspend and/or revoke driving privileges. 

What is the Punishment for a First-Time DUI?

A criminal conviction for a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor crime in California. The specific penalties depend on the circumstances of the case. However, the possible sentence is: 

  • Three to five years informal probation
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Fines
  • Mandatory court-approved alcohol course
  • Driver’s license suspended for six months 

What is the Punishment for Drivers 18 to 21 Years Old?

In addition to the adult DUI consequences explained already, the driver will face penalties depending on BAC level. A BAC level of 0.05 percent to 0.07 percent will result in attending a mandatory driving under the influence awareness class. The driver will have to show proof the class was completed to restore their license.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Underage DUI Case?

Yes, the punishment for a zero tolerance conviction is serious because you face jail time and driver’s license suspension. Contact a California DUI/DWI lawyer to fight your case.