Drunk Driving Laws for People Under 21
California has a strict zero-tolerance law that makes it illegal for someone under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent or higher. California Vehicle Code Section 23136 states that “it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle.”
Unlike someone who is over the age of 21, a person who is younger than 21 must submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test. Failure to submit to or complete a PAS test or other chemical test can result in the suspension or revocation of their driving privileges for one to three years.
Driving with a BAC of 0.05% or Higher
If a person is under the age of 21 and is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent or higher they can be found in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23140. If convicted of 23140, a person could face a license suspension, fines, and be required to complete an alcohol education program.
Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or Higher
Contrary to popular belief, a person under the age of 21 can be found in violation of California Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and (b) or 23153 DUI with injury. CVC 23152 (a) states that is unlawful for a person to drive while under the influence of alcohol and CVC 23152 (b) states that it is unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more.
Although these are considered “adult” DUI violations, a person under the age of 21 can still be charged with violating these statutes depending on their BAC. Additionally, a person under the age of 21 can face criminal charges for driving under the influence of drugs.