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In 2018, 3,798 traffic fatalities occurred on California roads according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Of those fatalities, 1,069, or approximately 30%, occurred in an alcohol-impaired driving accident.

In an attempt to lower this number, California has implemented serious penalties against individuals convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). 

In most cases, California considers motorists over the legal limit when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08%.

However, the law differs when the motorist accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is underage. 

If you are facing charges for underage DUI, you need a DUI attorney who has experience with these charges.

Our team at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, knows what it takes to advocate for individuals charged with underage DUI. To start your free consultation, contact our office right away.

What Is Underage DUI in California?

California Vehicle Code Section 23136 prohibits motorists under the age of 21 from operating a vehicle with any alcohol in their system whatsoever.

This is known as California’s zero-tolerance law. In other words, the legal blood alcohol level in California if you are under 21 is .01%. 

California Vehicle Code Section 23140 addresses motorists under the age of 21 who operate a vehicle with a BAC at or above .05%. This is known as the underage DUI law.

The difference between this law and the zero-tolerance law is that the underage DUI law imposes greater penalties.

However, it’s important to recognize that you can face charges for both underage DUI as well as the standard DUI violations.

Thus, even if you’re under 21, having a BAC at or above .08% can result in charges for standard DUI in addition to charges filed under the zero-tolerance law and the underage DUI law.

What Are the Penalties for an Underage DUI?

The only penalty associated with the violation of California’s zero-tolerance law includes having your driver’s license suspended.

For your first offense, the court can revoke your license for one year. For subsequent offenses, the court can revoke your license for up to three years.

California considers an underage DUI an infraction, similar to a parking ticket. A conviction for violating the underage DUI law can result in the following penalties:

  • One-year driver’s license suspension;
  • A $100 fine; and
  • Mandatory alcohol education classes, if the driver was 18 or older.

California’s standard DUI statute carries more severe penalties. A standard DUI results in the following potential penalties:

  • One-year driver’s license suspension;
  • Three to five years of informal probation;
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (plus approximately another $1,000 in penalty assessments);
  • Attending one MADD class; 
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol and/or drug education program; and
  • Up to six months in jail.

If you’re facing any level of DUI charges, hiring an experienced DUI attorney can increase your chance of agreeing to plead to a lesser charge or having your case dismissed entirely.

Contact an Underage DUI Attorney Today

DUI charges can result not only in criminal penalties but also affect other areas of your life, such as employment and housing opportunities.

When you are facing any criminal conviction, you need an DUI defense attorney who is committed to advocating for you.

Our team at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, is here to help. Start your fight today by contacting one of our underage DUI attorneys.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.