How does an underage driver violate the "Zero tolerance" law?
California Vehicle Code Section 23136 sets out the requirements and penalties for drivers under the age of 21 who are either arrested or detained and/or arrested for DUI. A underage driver violates the zero tolerance law if they:
1) Takes a Preliminary Alcohol Screening test, or a chemical test with a Blood Alcohol Concentration level of 0.01% or more; OR,
2) Refuses to take, or fails to complete, a PAS or other chemical test.
Basically if an underage person is pulled over under suspicion of DUI and they have ANY alcohol in their system OR refuse to take a chemical test they will be charged with violating "Zero Tolerance."
What happens to your license?
If your BAC is over 0.01% BAC or if you refused, or failed to complete, a PAS or other chemical test, your driving privilege will be suspended for one year for a first offense. If this is the second time you have violated the "zero tolerance" your license will be revoked for two years and if its the third time then your license will be revoked for three years.
My license is suspended, now what?
After a 30-day suspension period, a person under the age of 21 may apply for what is know as a "critical need" drivers license only they did not refuse a PAS or chemical test AND they have a critical need to drive. (CVC ??12513, 13353.8).
What things are considered a 'critical need' to drive?
This type of license is very limited. An applicant must prove that all other transportation is inadequate and that a critical need condition exists. These include:
1) Driving to and from school,
2) Driving to assist with a family illness,
3) Driving to and from work, or
4) Driving for a family enterprise and/or business (from which a measurable portion of the family's income is obtained).
How do I apply for a 'critical need' license?
You will need to use application for DS 694 (a link to the application is below) and mail it to the nearest Driver safety office. If approved, you will then be directed to go in person to your local DMV field office. You must pay $100 fee and show proof of SR22. After these steps are completed you will be granted a restricted license.
Additional resources provided by the author
Source material for this guide: California Department of Motor Vehicles.