Most states have a zero tolerance approach for drinking and alcohol while driving. In California, Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23136 applies when you are under 21 and you drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01% or greater. VC 23140 applies to those under 21 who have a BAC level of .05 or greater.

Keep in mind that alcoholic beverage is not the only thing that can tip you over the BAC of .01%–some medications/medicines contact alcohol and can subject you to this violation. BAC is generally measured by a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test usually conducted on the side of the road.

If your BAC level is .01% or greater and you are under 21 years of age, the penalty is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. If your BAC level is 0.5%, the penalty is a one-year suspension, a fine, and if you are 18 years of age or over, a mandatory alcohol education program of three months or longer.

You have a right to challenge the suspension through a DMV hearing. If your license is suspended, there are also ways to obtain a “restricted driver’s license” which would allow you to drive but under certain conditions.

Regardless of your age, you may be charged with the standard DUI if your driving ability is impaired due to alcohol, drugs or both and you drive with a BAC level of .08% or higher.

The law in California under VC 23224 is that individuals under 21 years old may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless: the container is full, sealed, and unopened AND accompanied by a parent or other specified adult. Other allowable acts would be if the under 21 year old person was getting rid of the alcohol because their parent or such an adult told them to or carrying it as part of their job for someone who has a valid liquor license.

Violation of VC 23224 is a misdemeanor and can result in the car you were driving to be impounded for up to 30 days, a fine of up to $1000 and a one-year suspension of driver’s license.

Underage drinking, driving, possession of alcoholic beverages have lasting resulting results in a young person’s life. I have had clients who have called me to let me know that due to prior arrests/convictions dealing with alcohol, their financial aid, scholarship and employment were at risk.

The only way to prevent having to revisit and explain your actions at a later time, challenging it with either the DMV and/or the criminal court system is a choice you have to make.

If you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, visit my website at or call my office at 310-601-7144. To receive updates on legal matters from Attorney Carina, please like our facebook page: or follow us on Twitter: @AttyCastaneda.

CategoryLegal Advice
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