Navigating the Murky Waters of an Underage DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23136): Recent Client Win!

  • Melody Yasuda, Esq.,
  •   DUI
  •   Comments Off on Navigating the Murky Waters of an Underage DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23136): Recent Client Win!
Melody Yasuda Esq Ticket Crushers Law

California’s stringent DUI laws are well-known, but they take on a whole new level of gravity when it comes to those under the age of 21. An underage DUI can alter the course of a young person’s life, and one such case recently demonstrates the importance of understanding the legal intricacies and defenses surrounding California Vehicle Code Section 23136.

Client was charged with California Vehicle Code Section 23136 (Underage DUI) and speeding over 100 miles per hour. At trial, the Officer did not have certified calibration records for the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test or the lidar device used. Upon objection to the admission of any evidence of the client’s alcohol level or speed as the officer could not show the accuracy of the readings, the Judge found the client not guilty.

Elements of an Underage DUI:

To secure a conviction for an Underage DUI under California Vehicle Code Section 23136, the prosecution must establish three critical elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Element 1: Under 21 – The prosecution must prove that the defendant was under 21 at the time of the offense.

Element 2: Driving – The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant was actually operating a vehicle.

Element 3: 0.01% BAC or Higher – It is unlawful for an individual under 21 to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher. This threshold is astonishingly low, underscoring the strict nature of California’s laws regarding underage drinking and driving. Even a single drink can push a minor over this limit, and there is no requirement to prove impairment.

The Role of Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Tests: In cases of underage DUI, BAC levels are typically determined using a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. Refusal to consent to this chemical test can result in a one-year suspension of the driver’s license. It is essential to understand that PAS test results can significantly impact the outcome of the case.

Defensive Strategies:

Every underage DUI case is unique, and various defenses can be employed. Some of these include:

  1. No Probable Cause: Just like any DUI case, law enforcement must have a valid reason to stop and investigate a driver. This can include vehicle code violations such as erratic driving, speeding, running red lights, or being involved in an accident. If an officer suspects a minor might have consumed alcohol after a valid probable cause stop, they have the right to initiate a DUI investigation.
  2. Error in Breath Test Device: The devices used for PAS tests must be correctly maintained and calibrated to ensure accurate readings. Inaccurate calibration can cast doubt on the reliability of test results.
  3. False Readings: Certain medical conditions, medications, or other factors can lead to inaccurate chemical test results, potentially bolstering the defense’s argument.

Penalties and Consequences:

A conviction for an underage DUI carries a one-year driver’s license suspension. Furthermore, it can leave a lasting mark on an individual’s driving record, affecting their insurance rates.


Understanding the legal elements of an Underage DUI in California is paramount for young drivers and their parents. The consequences of such a charge can be severe, but it’s important to remember that individuals have the right to legal representation.

For those facing an Under-21 DUI charge, the message is clear: the law is complex, but with the right legal representation, there is hope for a favorable outcome. In a world where consequences can be life-altering, have an attorney who understands the nuances of the law can make all the difference.

Ticket Crushers is California’s Top-Rated DUI & Traffic Defense Firm with Thousands of Cases Dismissed – Se Habla Español  – Call us now at 1-866-842-5384 for more information on DUIs in California.

Updated: 9/13/2023