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My Child Was Caught Drinking and Driving, Now What?

underage, San Jose juvenile defense lawyer

Anyone with a teenaged child knows that teens do not always make the best decisions. Even well-intentioned children can get mixed up with the wrong crowd and take dangerous risks. If you have a teenaged child who has been accused of driving under the influence, you are probably overwhelmed and unsure of how to handle the situation. You may be afraid that your child will go to jail or be burdened with heavy fines. California takes underage drinking very seriously. Do not hesitate to contact a juvenile crimes defense attorney if your child has been accused of driving under the influence.

California Has Zero Tolerance for Underage Drunk Driving

Most adults know that the magic number when it comes to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent. Adults caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and face serious punitive consequences. However, the laws apply differently for those motorists under age 21. The California Vehicle Code states that it is illegal for a “person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle.”

Underage drivers caught driving with BAC of .01 percent or more may be convicted of a “zero-tolerance” infraction. This conviction results in a minimum one-year license suspension as well as up to $250 in fines. If an underage driver is caught with a BAC of 0.5 percent or more, they may be charged with an “underage DUI” and face similar consequences and receive a two driving record demerit points. Those drivers over 18 years old but younger than 21 are often required to complete an alcohol education program before they can have their license reinstated.

Underage Motorists Who Drink and Drive May Be Charged the Same as Adults

California law differentiates between underage drivers with a BAC under the adult legal limit of 0.08 percent and those with a BAC higher than 0.08 percent. If your child was pulled over by police while driving and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, he or she can be charged with a “standard” DUI. If convicted, he or she may be subject to the same penalties that an adult offender would face including up to six months in a county jail or a youth detention facility. This criminal misdemeanor conviction may also negatively affect your child’s future school and employment opportunities.

Seek Legal Guidance from a Santa Clara County Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Contact the San Jose juvenile law professionals at the law firm of Wesley Schroeder if your child has been charged with a DUI. Call us at (408) 277-­0377 today for a confidential consultation.