Underage 21 DUI in California

Since it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to even possess alcohol, California has developed a zero tolerance policy for anyone under 21 years old who drinks and drives, even if there is not enough alcohol in a person’s system to cause impairment. If alcohol impairment is present, then the young person can also be arrested and prosecuted for DUI just like an adult.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) §23136, established strict “Zero Tolerance” requirements and penalties for drivers under 21 years of age to drive after having consumed alcohol or drugs. The DMV is required to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person under age 21 who was detained and/or arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, who either:

  • Takes a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, or a chemical test (blood or breath test) with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.01 percent or more, or
  • Refuses to take, or fails to complete, a PAS or other chemical test

Under one of those circumstances, the officer will give the driver a Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License (DS 367/367M). The officer will also confiscate the driver’s valid California driver’s license and send it to the DMV to be destroyed. The temporary driver’s license will be valid for 30 days from the issue date, which is usually the date that young person was detained and/or arrested. At the end of the 30 days, the suspension/revocation action goes into effect unless your attorney is able to get it invalidated.

Attorney for Under Age 21 DUI in San Francisco, CA

You have 10 days from receipt of the Suspension/Revocation Order (DS 367/367M) to have your attorney request a hearing to show that the APS suspension/revocation is not justified. The APS Zero Tolerance suspension/revocation will not be stayed or delayed unless:

  • You request a hearing within 10 days from the issue date of the order, and
  • DMV cannot provide a hearing appointment before the effective date of the suspension/revocation

Before the hearing, and upon request, your attorney will obtain copies of the DMV’s evidence. Your attorney can represent you at the hearing, call witnesses, and present evidence. If the suspension or revocation is invalidated, then it will come off your driving record.

After the hearing decision, if the action is upheld, you may submit a written request for a department review within 15 days of the effective date of the decision. The fee for a department review is $120 (CVC §§ 14105.5, 14907).

Apart from the department review process, your attorney may request a court review within 30 days following the issuance of the notice of the hearing decision (CVC § 13559).

If either you or your child was arrested for DUI or driving in violation of California’s Zero Tolerance Law in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, then contact an experienced attorney at Ticket Crushers. We represent young people charged with DUI involving a breath test, blood test, or the refusal to submit to testing.


Drinking and Driving While under 21 Years Old in California

If you are under 21 years old and drive in California, then you have consented to have your breath or blood tested if you are arrested for DUI due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. If your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, the officer can arrest you under CVC §§ 23152 or 23153.

If the officer reasonably believes you are under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs, and you have already submitted to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) and/or breath test, you may still be required to submit to a blood test because the breath test does not detect the presence of drugs.

If you refuse to submit to the required blood test, then your driving privilege may be suspended because of your refusal. Even if you change your mind later, your driving privilege may be suspended for both reasons, although both actions will run concurrently.


California’s Zero Tolerance for Alcohol Use for Anyone Under 21

If you are under 21 years old, you must submit to a hand-held breath test, preliminary alcohol screening (PAS), or one of the other chemical tests. If you have a BAC of:

  • 0.01 percent or higher on the PAS, your driver’s license may be suspended for one (1) year, or
  • 0.05 percent or higher, then the officer may require you to submit to either a breath or blood test

If a subsequent test reveals a BAC of 0.05 percent or higher, the officer will issue you an order of suspension and arrest you for DUI (CVC §23140).

The APS Zero Tolerance suspension or revocation is independent of any other DMV adverse action, or any jail, fine, or other criminal penalty imposed in court if you were convicted of the offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

To reinstate your driving privilege after an APS Zero Tolerance suspension/revocation, you must:

  • Pay a $100 reissue fee to DMV (CVC §13392)
  • File proof of financial responsibility (e.g., a California Insurance Proof Certificate [SR 22], $35,000 cash deposit, surety bond, or self-insurer certificate pursuant to CVC §16430)
  • Maintain proof of financial responsibility for three years

Court DUI Convictions for Anyone Under 21 Years Old

If you are convicted of DUI of either alcohol and/or drugs or both, and you have an excessive BAC level, you may be sentenced to serve up to six (6) months in jail and be ordered to pay a fine of between $390 and $1,000 (plus about 3 times the amount of the fine in penalty assessments) for even a first offense. Additionally, your vehicle may be impounded and is subject to storage fees.

On the first conviction for DUI:

  • Your driving privilege will be suspended for 6 months
  • You will be required to complete a DUI program
  • You must file a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22), and
  • You must pay all fees before your driver’s license can be reinstated.

Enhanced Penalties for a DUI for Anyone Under 21 Years Old

If your BAC is 0.15 percent or higher, and you already have a record of violations for other reasons or you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the court may order you to complete a program of nine months or longer.

If your BAC is 0.20 percent or higher and the court refers you to an enhanced DUI treatment program, your driver’s license will be suspended for 10 months. You could also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. An IID prevents you from starting your vehicle if you have any alcohol on your breath.

If anyone is injured as a result of your DUI, the suspension period is one (1) year.

The court may also require persons convicted of DUI to install and maintain, for a specific period of time, an IID on all vehicles they own and operate and pay a $45 administrative service fee to reinstate their driving privileges (CVC § 23700).

In cases involving serious injury or death, you may face civil lawsuits. All DUI convictions will remain on DMV records for 10 years. The courts and/or DMV may impose more stringent penalties for subsequent violations during that period.

A BAC below the legal limits does not mean that you are safe to drive. DUI enforcement officers will say that almost all drivers show impairment by alcohol at levels lower than the legal limit. The impairment you exhibit at the time you are stopped may be enough to convict you of a DUI even without a BAC measurement.


Drivers 21 and Older — DUI Programs and Restricted Driver Licenses

Completion of a DUI program is required for all DUI convictions. If you are over 21 years old, enroll in a DUI program, file a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22), and pay the restriction and reissue fees, the DMV will issue you a restricted driver’s license.

Drivers with a first DUI conviction are allowed a license that restricts them to drive to and from work, during the course of employment, and to and from a DUI program. However, if you are considered a “traffic safety” or “public safety” risk, the court may order the DMV to not grant you a restricted driver’s license. Other legal or administrative actions against you may also prohibit the issuance of a restricted driver’s license.

NOTE: If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you should know that commercial drivers are disqualified for one (1) year and cannot obtain a restricted CDL without downgrading to a noncommercial license.

Second and subsequent DUI convictions result in increased penalties, including suspension of two (2) years or a revocation of up to four (4) years. After you complete a prescribed period of your suspension/revocation and either enroll in, or complete a portion of, a DUI program, you may obtain a restricted driver’s license to drive anywhere necessary, if you:

  • Install an IID on your vehicle
  • Agree not to drive any vehicle without an IID
  • Agree to complete the prescribed DUI program
  • File an SR 22
  • Pay the reissue and restriction fees

Underage 21 Suspensions for a BAC at 0.08 percent or Above

If you are 21 years of age or older, took a blood or breath test, and the results showed a BAC of 0.08 percent or more:

  • A first offense will result in a suspension of four (4) months
  • A second or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a suspension of one (1) year

If you are under 21 years of age, took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test and results showed  a BAC of 0.01 percent or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for one (1) year.


Underage 21 Suspensions for Refusal to Submit to a Breath or Blood Test

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested and you refused or failed to complete a PAS test or other chemical test, the driver’s license sanctions are:

  • A first offense will result in a suspension of one (1) year
  • A second offense within 10 years will result in a revocation of two (2) years
  • A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a revocation of three (3) years

The Administrative Suspension for Under 21 DUI

The length of the Administrative Suspension after depends are several factors, including whether the young person submitted to chemical testing or refused to submit.

  • For a person under the age of 21 who submitted to a handheld preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test after being legally detained or arrested for DUI and for which results showed a BAC of 0.01 percent or more, the driving privilege will be administratively suspended for one (1) year
  • For a person under the age of 21 who refused to submit to a handheld preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test after being lawfully detained or arrested, then:
    • A first offense will result in a suspension of one (1) year
    • A second offense within 10 years will result in a revocation of two (2) years
    • A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a revocation of three (3) years

Reinstating the License After an Administrative Suspension

For a driver under the age of 21 who received a suspension under California’s Zero Tolerance Law pursuant to Vehicle Code §§ 23136, 13353.1, 13388, or 13392, the reissue fee is $100. When the administrative suspension or revocation period expires, the driver’s license will be returned to the underaged driver provided that the $100 reissue fee is paid to the DMV and proof of financial responsibility is filed.


Additional Resources

Under 21 DUI APS Actions — Read an online version of the California Driver Handbook to learn more about how alcohol and drugs impact a driver under the age of 21 years old at an Admin Per Se (APS) hearing or after a DUI conviction in court. Learn more about how a young person can reinstate a driver’s license after a revocation or suspension for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California.

DUI General Information for a Young Driver under 21 — Visit the website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles to learn more about the suspension periods for a young person suspected of driving impaired who either takes the breath test and registers a high BAC or who refuses to take a chemical test of the breath or blood.


Finding a Lawyer for an Under 21 DUI in San Francisco

If either you or your child was arrested for DUI or received a suspension under California’s Zero Tolerance Law pursuant to Vehicle Code §§ 23136, 13353.1, 13388, 13392, then contact an experienced San Francisco DUI Lawyer at Ticket Crushers.

We are experienced in addressing the complicated issues in these cases, helping the young person fight for the best result, and addressing any underlying issue so that no future problems occur.

Call 1 (866) 842-5384 to discuss your case today with an experienced DUI defense attorney in San Francisco, CA.