For some students, consuming alcohol just seems a natural part of the college experience. However, many of these students feel it's an unfortunate fact that in their locality they are under the legal age for drinking. Even the mere possession of alcohol can be a citable offense. California's "minor in possession" law prohibits minors under 21 from possessing an alcoholic beverage in any public place. Driving under the influence by a minor comes with far reaching consequences and falls into a special category of DUI offenses that have much stricter standards than those applied to adult drivers.
In California, a person who is under the age of 21 and is caught driving with a BAC at 0.01 percent level is considered drunk. State law, which defines California as a zero-tolerance state, makes it illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of blood alcohol. The BAC threshold for minors is substantially lower than those who are of the legal drinking age. Although, unlike other zero-tolerance states, the driver's blood alcohol content must be greater than 0.01%, in order for the driver to be cited for DUI. In addition, the law prohibits minors to be in possession of any open or closed alcohol containers in their vehicle.
What a minor convicted of DUI can expect
A person under the age of 21 caught driving for the first-time with a blood alcohol content in the range of 0.05 - 0.07 percent will be fined $100. Like DUI cases involving adults, the offender's driver's license will be suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) for a period of time. Unlike adult related DUI offenses, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an infraction instead of a felony or misdemeanor offense, unless the BAC level was at 0.08 percent or higher as indicated by a breath or blood test.
A minor being found in possession of alcohol in a car, could face fines up to $1,000, up to six months in a county jail, a minimum one-year license suspension, or impoundment of the vehicle for a period of 1 day up to 30 days.