DUI under 21


Anyone younger than 21 years of age who has been cited for driving under the influence faces special and particularly harsh penalties. As with any instance of DUI, there are two sets of laws and regulations for cases of driving under the influence by someone 20 years or younger. One set involves the courts, and another involves the Department of Motor Vehicles Admin Per Se (APS) hearing.


There are numerous charges a minor can face when caught driving while intoxicated.

Possession of alcohol in a vehicle – VC 23224

If you are 20 years of age or younger and have alcohol in your car you can be charged with a misdemeanor unless you are doing so as part of your job or have a parent with you. The penalties for violating this law are stiff, including six months of jail, $1000 in fines, and 30 days vehicle impoundment.

Minor in possession of alcohol – BPC 25662

Someone 20 years or younger who has alcohol in public can be charged with a misdemeanor. There are a few exceptions, however, including transporting alcohol as a duty for a job or at a parent’s request. If the action does not fall under these exceptions, a person younger than 21 with a first offense can be required to do community service up to 32 hours and pay a $250 fine. Second and subsequent offenses bring heavier fines ($500) and more service (48 hours).

Fake identification – BPC 25661

Use of a fake ID by someone 20 years of age or younger to purchase alcohol is a misdemeanor. As with BPC 25662 above, the penalties are community service up to 32 hours for a first offense and 48 hours for multiple violations and fines of $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent convictions.

Purchase or consumption of alcohol in on-sale premises – BPC 25658

Purchase or consumption of alcohol in a bar or restaurant by someone 20 years of age or younger is also a misdemeanor with the same penalties as for BPC 25661 and BPC 25662.


To complicate matters, underage DUI is also penalized by the Department of Motor Vehicles in a process separate from the courts. In what is called an Administrative Per Se hearing, DMV imposes heavy penalties for people 20 years or younger who drive while intoxicated. Your attorney must have the experience to understand how the processes work and the ability to protect your rights.

Preliminary alcohol screening for persons fewer than 21 – VC 23136

If you are under 21 and are detained by police or arrested for DUI (alcohol and/or drugs), the DMV will take away you’re driving privilege, this can be done if a breath or blood test shows just 0.01% blood alcohol or if you refuse to give a breath or blood sample. At the scene of the incident, the officer will take your license and give it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where it will be destroyed. You will be issued a 30 day temporary license. If you take no action, at the end of that 30 days your license will be suspended for one year. However, there is a ten (10) day window during which it is possible to request a DMV hearing to challenge the citation. At this hearing we will be able to present evidence and make arguments to prevent suspension of your driver license.

Challenging your arrest in the courts

If you’ve been cited for underage DUI, it is critical for you to protect your rights in both the courts and at the DMV hearing. I have over twenty years’ experience defending people who have made mistakes and want to protect their future education and employment interests. I will represent you throughout the court process to get the best outcome for your case. If we are not able to resolve the case through negotiation, I can represent you at trial. I will also schedule the DMV hearing within the ten day period and represent you through that process that can be so complicated and intimating to people not familiar with it.