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How Do Underage DUI Charges Differ from Adult DUI Cases in San Bernardino County?


What is Adult DUI in San Bernardino County?

Adult DUI cases in California are governed by standard DUI laws and apply to individuals who operate a car while under the influence of alcohol. The law is sometimes referred to as actual impairment, adult DUI law, or DUI per se law. The penalties for adult DUI are severe and can be made worse by aggravating factors such as bodily injury to or death of a victim.

You could be charged with a DUI if found with a BAC of 0.08% or more. Skilled criminal defense lawyers in San Bernardino can help you beat the charges to avoid penalties such as:

  • Driver’s license suspension for one year
  • Fines between $390 and $1,000
  • Informal probation of 3-5 years
  • Enrollment in an alcohol education program for 3 to 9 months and in a drug education program for the same period you were driving under the influence of drugs

Misdemeanor adult DUI charges often don’t attract a jail sentence, but if the judge decides to sentence you, you could be sent to a county jail for a maximum of six months.

What Are Underage DUI Charges?

California has two strict laws against drunk driving for people under 21:

  • Zero-tolerance law: The law prohibits underage drivers from driving with any level of detectable alcohol in the system. You don’t need to be impaired or under the influence to face charges under this law.
  • Under-age DUI with a BAC of 0.05% or higher: The law makes it an infraction for anyone under 21 to operate a car with a BAC of 0.05% or higher.

The law holds underage drivers to a stricter standard. If you don’t take action to fight the citation, you could face a mandatory one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Consult experienced DUI lawyers in San Bernardino for legal counsel if facing charges for underage DUI.

What Are the Penalties for Underage DUI Charges?

Violating the zero tolerance laws in California is not treated as a crime but a civil offense. Unlike adult DUI, the only penalty azZero-tolerance violation attracts is suspension or revocation of your driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), known as per se suspension.

The arresting officer will take your license and send it to the DMV, and you’ll be issued a temporary license for 30 days. The department will revoke the license suspension after 30 days if you don’t request a DMV hearing to challenge the suspension. However, if you don’t have a license at the time of the offense, you will be subjected to a one-year delay in getting one.

Penalties for Underage DUI with a BAC of 0.05% or Higher

Being caught with a BAC of 0.05% to 0.07% as a driver under 21 is also an infraction and does not attract a jail sentence. However, you risk the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one year if it’s a first-time offense
  • A fine of $100 for a first-time offense
  • A mandatory alcohol education program for three months or more if you’re over 18

Suspension of your driver’s license and the fines can set you back in several ways. You may not be able to drive to and from school and work. The fines may also cause a dent in your finances if you’re a student without an income. So, you should strive to defend yourself against the charges with the help of experienced San Bernardino DUI attorneys.

What If My DUI was 0.08% or Higher?

You can be charged with a violation of California’s standard DUI laws even if you’re an underage driver if caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more. You can be subjected to a combination of underage and adult DUI charges. The penalties include:

  • Up to six months in prison
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • License suspension of 3-10 months
  • Two points in your driving record
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
  • Enrolment into a DUI program

What Makes Underage DUI Charges Different?

Drivers over 21 have a certain amount of leeway in driving with alcohol in their blood system as long as it is 0.08% and don’t show signs of impairment. On the contrary, drivers under 21 are subject to the zero-tolerance laws that hold them to a higher standard. The main areas of difference between adult and underage DUI charges are:

  • BAC legal limit: The legal BAC limit for adult drivers is 0.08%, while underage drivers should not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Even the smallest amount of 0.01% is a violation of the law that could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license.
  • DUI breath test rules: Officers use a portable device known as a PAS to conduct a BAC test, which is mandatory for underage drivers. Refusing the test results in automatic suspension of the driver’s license, which could be longer if convicted of a DUI.
  • License suspension rules: Underage drivers could have their licenses suspended for one year for having alcohol in their system or refusing a PAS test. They risk a 2-3-year suspension if convicted of a DUI or if they refuse a chemical test.
  • Penalties imposed: The penalties for underage DUI are complex, but generally, a DUI of more than 0.08% attracts the same penalties as an adult DUI conviction.

A Skilled DUI Lawyer Helping You Navigate Underage DUI Laws

Facing DUI charges in California can be scary, and it can be worse if you’re an underage driver. The law imposes strict standards for drivers under 21, requiring them not to have any amount of alcohol in their system while driving. The consequences can be devastating, so consult skilled DUI lawyers in San Bernardino to defend you.

Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, is a criminal defense law firm in San Bernardino with skilled DUI lawyers. We can provide aggressive legal representation and fight for the most favorable outcome, whether you’re facing adult or underage DUI charges. Call us at 909-500-4819 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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