Underage DUI


If you are below 21 years and operate a vehicle under the influence, you are likely to be charged with underage DUI. You may also face additional charges under VEH 23152 for driving with a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.08%. Thus, you may face harsher penalties compared to other regular drivers. We at the Law Offices of Jeff Voll are ready to represent you if you are facing charges for underage DUI. Get in touch with our Los Angeles DUI attorneys for help.

DUI Vehicle Codes Associated with Minors and Their Penalties

In California, anyone under 21 years of age is considered a minor. With that in mind, let's proceed into determining the laws that restrict underage DUI.

Three vehicle codes restrict anything related to DUI and anyone below the age of 21. These vehicle codes are as follows:

  • Vehicle Code 23136
  • Vehicle Code 23140
  • Vehicle Code 23152

The Zero Tolerance Law - Vehicle Code 23136

Under Vehicle Code 23136,  a juvenile should not drive a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01 % or more. This law applies to any kind of drink or beverage with the potential of increasing the blood alcohol content of the consumer. This includes non-alcoholic beverages and medicine. It also applies to unimpaired impaired if there is a measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

Penalties for Vehicle Code 23136

Violating VC 23136 will lead to a mandatory suspension of the arrestee's driver's license. For a first time violator, the license will be suspended for a year. For a frequent violator, this puts you at risk of driver's license revocation for two or three years.

Vehicle Code 23140 – Underage DUI with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.05% or Higher

Under Vehicle Code 23140, it is unlawful for anyone under 21 to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% or more. Once a suspect has been arrested, he or she will be subjected to a DUI breath test at the police station or a DUI blood test.

Penalties for Violating Vehicle Code 23140

Violating Vehicle Code 23140 is considered an infraction, meaning that it is a low-level type of offense. Violating this law does not lead to jail time. However, the penalties that apply are:

  • Suspension of the driver's license for a year for a first-time offender
  • A maximum fine of $ 100 for first-time offenders
  • Mandatory attendance to an alcohol-related education program that can last for three years or more

Vehicle Code 23152 – Impairment or Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.08 % or More

A juvenile can be charged with a regular adult DUI if he or she was impaired due to alcohol or drugs and had a BAC of 0.08%.


Penalties for Violating Vehicle Code 23152

Violating VC 23152 is considered as a misdemeanor in California and carries the following penalties for a first-time offender:

  • Suspension of the driver's license for a year
  • Informal probation for three to five years
  • Fines of $390 to $ 1,000
  • Mandatory attendance of a three-months or nine-months alcohol or drug education program
  • Imprisonment in a county jail for six months, which is usually in rare cases.

The juvenile can also face other DUI charges such as:

  • DUI that caused injuries
  • DUI of drugs
  • DUI murder
  • Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

Additional Charges in Underage DUI

There are a couple of other charges that might result from underage DUI. Some of the factors that lead to these additional charges include:

  • Using fake ID or an ID of an adult to obtain alcohol
  • Possessing alcohol in a container
  • Riding in a vehicle as a passenger but in possession of alcoholic beverage

The above situations can lead to additional charges on your charges or result in harsher consequences. Some of the potential consequences that might follow are:

Reporting Your DUI Charges when Applying for a Job or School

If you have a DUI charge on your criminal background, you should report it while applying for a job or school. If you fail to report the DUI conviction, you might get expelled from school or fired from work. You might also be restricted to a scholarship, although this does not happen in every institution. The best way to deal with this kind of situation is to apply for a DUI expungement.

Restricted License

If a juvenile loses a case with the DMV, he or she will end up getting a restricted license. The license is more of a critical use license or restricted hardship compared with other types of restrictions. The arrestee can only drive to and from school or work without any other kind of transportation available.

If the arrestee refused to take a breath test, this kind of suspension might not be available for him or her.

Dissenting to Take a Breath Test

If the juvenile refuses to take a Preliminary assessment test (PAS) or a formal breath test, he or she might end up having his or her driving privileges suspended for a year. The term might be increased by a year if the minor has a prior record of refusing a chemical test or a previous DUI arrest.

Challenging License Suspension after Refusing a Breath Test

Minors who have their license suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles can challenge such a move through a hearing with the department. The driver is expected to file a request for a hearing within ten days after the suspension. The trial is conducted through a phone call unless you decide to request it to be done in person.

Your attorney can represent you in the hearing and handle the entire on your behalf. Once the department agrees to reinstate your license, you should do the following:

  • Pay a $125 reissue fee to the Department of Motor vehicle
  • File an SR-22 form to prove your financial responsibility
  • Show your financial obligation for three years

Legal Defenses for Underage DUI

Your attorney has a wide range of legal defense options when it comes to your underage DUI charges. Before he or she decides on a particular type of legal defense, one must check whether the strategy is reasonable enough to win or reduce your case. Here is an overview of the common types of legal defenses that your attorney can consider.

  • Claim that you did not drive
  • Claim that the police officer did not have any probable cause of the stoppage
  • Disapprove the chemical test results and claim that the breathalyzer was faulty and improper handling of your test samples
  • Claim that the officer handling your sample did not follow the right procedure as explained by the California laws
  • Assert that the DUI officer failed to read out Miranda's right during your arrest
  • Claim that you had a medical condition such as acid reflux which can lead to false-positive results
  • Challenge the breathalyzer using its margin of error and the effects that it achieved
  • Claim that you were high in protein or carbohydrates, leading to false-positive results
  • Claim that you failed to pass your Preliminary assessment test due to physical conditions and fatigue.

Crimes Related to Underage DUI

There are a couple of driving offenses that a juvenile can be charged along with underage DUI charges. These crimes are as follows:

Vehicle Code 23224 – Juvenile Possession of Alcohol in a Vehicle

Under Vehicle Code 23224, it is unlawful for underage to drive a vehicle while in possession of alcohol. The code exempts the possession if:

  • The container holding the alcoholic drink is full, unopened and sealed and
  • The minor is accompanied by an adult or parent or is getting rid of the alcohol. The exemption can also be considered if the minor is carrying out a job and has a legitimate liquor license on board.

Violating this penal code is considered as a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • Impoundment of the vehicle for thirty days
  • Suspension of the driver's license for a year
  • A maximum fine of $ 1,000

Vehicle Code 23222 (b) - Possession of Marijuana While Driving

Under Vehicle Code 23222 (b), it is unlawful for underage to drive while in possession of weed. The suspect is considered a suspect if the marijuana is not in a container, or the container is open or has a broken seal.

Violating this law is an infraction and attracts a punishment of a fine that amounts to $ 100.

Vehicle Code 23221 – Driving while Ingesting Marijuana or Smoking

Under Vehicle Code 23221, it is unlawful for underage to drive while ingesting weed or drinking alcohol. A suspect is usually convicted of this crime if he or she is a passenger and is drinking alcohol and uses or consumes marijuana.

Violating this law is an infraction and attracts a fine of up to $100 for a first-time offender.

Find a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

As an underage driver, it can be confusing if you are arrested with a DUI. Such situations require the intervention of a professional criminal defense attorney who has experience in this kind of case. You need an attorney who is readily available and has established an excellent working relationship with former clients. We at the Law Offices of Jeff Voll can match your expectations. If you are in Los Angeles, contact us today at 323-467-6400 and let us handle your case.

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