My Teen got a DUI: Consequences for DUI under 21 California

Remember adolescence, when we thought we were invincible and smarter than everybody else? A time when you thought you knew what you wanted, were completely oblivious to what you needed, and life was just about having fun? Many teenagers seem to have few cares in the world, but having fun is certainly high on the priority list. [PS. For a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, check out our page here].

Though not everyone’s adolescence is necessarily idyllic, no matter where you raise your teen or under which conditions, he or she is bound to to make poor decisions—at least sporadically. The experience of raising a teen can seem like mitigating a repercussion minefield of youthful mistakes, while counseling him or her on how ensure that such lapses in judgement are not perpetuated into adulthood.

Some mistakes are funny in retrospect, but others are much more serious. Sometimes the mistakes of our youth have long-lasting consequences that can embarrass, hurt, or harm not only ourselves, but our families, friends, and sometimes even strangers. Many times, the most unfortunate mistakes can happen in the best homes to the brightest kids with the most devoted parents.

What is a parent to do when their otherwise good kid decides to take a joyride after drinking at a party he or she swore was alcohol-free and supervised by adults? In time, you will likely be able to look back and be grateful that the incident did not end up worse. But in the moment and the immediate aftermath, you will have a great deal to account for.

Let’s talk facts.

If your child has a valid, legal driver’s permit and is at least 15 and a half years old, he or she is of legal driving age in the state of California. But, if your child is under 21 with a valid California State permit or license, the fact that they were drinking and driving is problematic to say the least.

The penalties for underage drinking may involve fines and community service as well as the suspension of a permit or license. The penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol, depending on how many times you have offended, range from license suspension to jail time.

The State of California is strict when it comes to underage drivers operating a motor vehicle while drunk, due to the State of California’s Zero Tolerance Law on the treatment of this dangerous behavior. The laws are so strict, in fact, that a mere 0.01% Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) is enough to declare a driver who is under 21 years of age incapacitated. Under the Zero Tolerance Law, drivers who are under 21 can lose their driving privileges for one year if their BAC is 0.01% or higher or if they refuse to let the arresting officer perform a (preliminary alcohol screening) PAS test, and/or if they submit to the PAS test but fail.

If your BAC is 0.05% or higher, you may be subject to fines and participation in a court mandated alcohol education course as well as suspension of your license. Lastly, if your Blood Alcohol Count is at 0.08% or higher, your child may be subject to the consequences of a standard of age DUI where the minor will be tried as an adult and subject to the same sentencing standards.

As for the consequences of an underage DUI…

An underage DUI can cause your minor child’s license to be suspended for at least a year and remain on their permanent driving record for years. Because colleges require that you disclose criminal history in the application process, your child may lose educational opportunities at institutions of higher learning because of their underage DUI. Employers are also allowed to ask about criminal histories, so your child may miss out on job opportunities as they begin to start building their career.

All kids want to have fun, but it is incumbent upon every child and their parents to ensure that said fun is not harmful or dangerous to themselves and society. Underage drinking, particularly while driving, is a game teenagers cannot win. As parents and caretakers, we owe it to our children and society to raise responsible, present and sober drivers. On the same thread, there are many instances where the facts of a given case are misconstrued and the facts of your child’s DUI case requires an advocate to present such details in a clear and concise manner to the court.

Even the best kids get into trouble. If your teen has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, you need legal assistance and a representative who will aggressively advocate for your child and your family. When you need an DUI attorney who is committed to navigating DUI matters, call the Hurwitz Law Group, Inc for a free consultation. We will help you sort through your options and determine your best legal course of action based on the unique circumstance of your case.

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