California's underage DUI laws are the toughest in the nation. Under the "Zero Tolerance Law", anyone under 21 years of age with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.01% or greater will be charged with a California DUI . Underage drivers with a BAC of 0.05% or greater may also be charged with both an underage DUI and a regular DUI at the same time and be subject to arrest for a California DUI .
For most, to reach a BAC of 0.01% means drinking:
o One 12-ounce beer
o One 4-ounce glass of wine
o One 1.25-ounce of liquor
Often, these will put a driver over 0.01%; usually closer to 0.05%. Drivers under 18 years of age that are convicted of DUI will lose their license for a year OR until their 18th birthday, whichever is greater.
Additionally, a judge may choose to confiscate an underage driver's vehicle. In all cases, the driver will have to pay fines of several thousand dollars, attend driving safety and alcohol/drug abuse classes, will have to prove financial responsibility.
All underage DUI convictions will lead to the suspension of the driver's license for one year.
Any subsequent refusals to submit to chemical testing within ten years will result in harsher punishment:
o Second refusal results in the driver's license being suspended for 2 years
o Third and subsequent refusals result in the driver's license being revoked and/or suspended for at least 3 years
o Refusing to submit to chemical testing is often socially and legally treated the same as an underage DUI.
Like other DUIs, underage DUIs are subject to two separate prosecutors?the DMV, which will suspend or revoke the driver's license, and the criminal court, which will impose fines, jail time, and require the driver to take classes in safe driving and alcohol and drug abuse. In some cases, if the offending driver has no previous convictions and is over 18 years of age, he or she may be able to attend one 12 hour safety and alcohol/drug abuse class. If those requirements are not met, the driver will have to participate in a more intense and expensive 3 month course.
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