Articles Posted in Under 21 DUI

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IMG_7722-300x225As the weather warms up in San Diego, people enjoy the outdoors and get more active. Many flock to the bay, ocean, lakes and rivers to enjoy a day on the water, but be aware that law enforcement agencies are out in full force actively looking to cite people for boating under the influence, BUI’s.

In California, if you operate a motorized boat or any watercraft while under the influence, you can be arrested and charged with a crime. (Note: This code section only applies to motorized vessels, meaning that you cannot be charged under these code sections if your vessel is exclusively self or water propelled such as a kayak, rowboat, or a non-motorized sailboat. Also, there is a “zero tolerance” policy for anyone under the age of 21, meaning if you are underage, any measurable amount of alcohol can lead to BUI charges.)

The Harbors and Navigation Code provides the statutes for BUI. The language of the code is very close in the language in the California Vehicle Code for drunk driving, (see California Vehicle Code section 23152).

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Whether you are 21 years old or older, or under 21 years old, if you are arrested for driving under the influence, two separate actions are triggered. The first is the Administrative Per Se, or APS, action from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which deals with the suspension of your driving privileges. The second is the criminal process through the Superior Court, which deals with criminal penalties such as probation, fines, DUI programs, community service, possible jail time, and a range of other possible penalties. This blog article deals specifically with the Zero Tolerance Law and the DMV APS action.

In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. It is also illegal for anyone under 21 to drive if they have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Once the under 21 year old is detained or arrested, they must submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test, PAS, or other chemical test. If their blood alcohol content (BAC) is found to be .01% or greater, they will be given notice that their license will be automatically suspended in 30 days unless they request a hearing challenging the suspension within 10 days of the arrest. The suspension for a first offense is one year.

If the under 21 driver submitted a PAS sample or completed another chemical test, there are only 3 issues that the hearing officer will consider at the hearing. 1.) Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you had been driving a motor vehicle in violation of sections 23136, 23140, 23152, 23153, or 23154 of the Vehicle Code? 2.) Were you lawfully placed under arrest, or if the alleged violation was of section 23136 or 23154 of the Vehicle Code, were you lawfully detained? 3.) Were you driving a motor vehicle…under 21 years of age and had a blood alcohol concentration of .01% or more as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test, or any other chemical test?

You have a right to retain a DUI defense attorney to represent your interests at the APS hearing.

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In California, it’s well known that it is unlawful to drive a vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, a drug or a combination thereof, under California Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23152. In addition, California has “open container laws” which are codified in VC Sections 23221 – 23229. A driver or a passenger that is over 21 years old can have an unopened, factory-sealed alcohol container inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle; however, the “open container laws” make it illegal to have an open alcohol container in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle.

Specifically, California VC Section 23221 prohibits drivers and passengers from consuming an alcoholic beverage while the motor vehicle is being driven on a roadway.

If you are a driver or a passenger that is over 21 years old and you have an open container in your possession in the vehicle, you can be charged with Possession of Open Container While Driving or Possession of Open Container in Motor Vehicle under California Vehicle Code Section 23222 or 23223.

It is also unlawful for a registered owner to store an opened alcohol container inside their vehicle under VC 23225. As well, it is illegal for the driver or a passenger to store an opened alcohol container inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the vehicle is being driven on a roadway, per California Vehicle Code Section 23226.

California VC Section 23224 addresses drivers and passengers that are under 21 years old. In essence this section states no person under 21 shall knowingly drive any motor vehicle carrying an alcoholic beverage and no passenger under 21 shall knowingly possess or have under their control any alcoholic beverage unless accompanied by a parent or an adult designated by a parent, or driving during the course of their employment, or if unaccompanied the underage driver was following the reasonable instructions of their parent.

There are exceptions to these “open container laws” that are found in VC 23229. Passengers in any bus, taxi, limo for hire licensed to transport passengers, or persons inside the living quarters of a housecar or camper are exempt from the possession of an open container and the drinking inside a vehicle laws. And, the driver of the vehicles listed above are exempt from the storage of an open container law found in VC 23225.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI defense attorney in your area.

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Southern California springtime brings with it beautiful weather, blooming flowers, high school proms and graduation celebrations. There is the potential for young adults to drink alcohol in celebration even though it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to ingest an alcoholic beverage. These teens are inexperienced drinkers. Often, they do not understand how their bodies react to alcohol consumption, how it slows motor function, and how it makes them easily distracted and more likely to make choices they would not normally make if they were sober.
couple.jpgIn addition to being inexperienced drinkers, they are also inexperienced drivers. Adding alcohol to the mix can lead to car accidents, bodily injury, property damage, the loss of their driving privileges, driving under the influence charges with fines, fees and a criminal record, and worse, possibly deadly consequences for the driver, the passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers.

Often teens feel invincible not believing bad things will happen to them. This is dangerous thinking in the realm of drinking and driving. There may be peer pressure to drive after drinking or to ride in a car with someone after they have had alcohol.

USA Today and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) warn of the dangers. MADD reports the leading cause of death for teens is car accidents. Of those accidents, 1/3 are alleged to involve alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims teenage DUI’s are down 54% since 1991, but almost one million teenagers reported drinking alcohol and then driving in 2011.

The best thing you can do as a parent is educate your young adult children of the dangers of drinking and driving. Encourage them to call you anytime for a ride without questions. Let them know they can be seriously injured or killed as a passenger in a car that is driven by another young adult who is under the influence.

One bad choice made while under the influence can change not only the teen’s life, but the lives of those around them.

Happy spring, prom and graduation time! Make it a safe one!

But, if you happen to get arrested for drunk driving and you are under 21 years old, you owe it to yourself to hire a criminal defense attorney that exclusively deals with drunk driving matters. Do not just plead guilty! A criminal conviction can affect your life long after the incident occurred. Find out your rights and protect yourself.

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In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Further, anyone under the legal limit must be alcohol-free when driving. This is codified in California Vehicle Code Section 23136, the Zero Tolerance Law, which states, “[I]t 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.”

The Zero Tolerance Law is a civil offense and is handled through the DMV. Any underage driver who is detained or arrested for drunk driving is required to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) or other chemical test. If the driver refuses or fails to complete the test or the blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .01% or more, the DMV will suspend or revoke the youth’s driver’s license.

If the under 21 year old driver took the PAS or other chemical test and the results were .01% or higher, their driver’s license suspension is one year. If the driver refused or failed to complete the test, the license suspension is one year for the first offense, revoked for two years for the second offense within 10 years, and revoked for three years for three or more offenses within 10 years.

The Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License will allow the driver to continue to drive with the same privileges and restrictions as they had under their driver’s license for a period of 30 days from the date it was issued. After that 30-day period, the driver’s license is automatically suspended or revoked unless within 10 days after the date of detention or arrest the DMV is contacted to request a hearing to challenge the suspension or revocation. You may hire a San Diego criminal defense attorney to represent you and your interests at the DMV hearing. If you prevail at the hearing, the suspension or revocation will be set aside and your driving privileges are restored in full.

On the first offense, if the suspension or revocation is not challenged or if you do not prevail after the DMV hearing, but the driver completed a chemical test, the driver may apply for a critical need restriction after the 30-day suspension, under CVC 12513, 13353.8. This will only be granted if the driver can show a critical need to drive and that other transportation options are inadequate.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23136 does not preclude further criminal prosecution under the other driving under the influence statutes including CVC Section 23152 and 23153, which are wobblers, meaning they can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. In addition, there is another CVC section that specifically deals with under 21 drivers, CVC Section 23140. Under this section, is it an infraction for anyone under 21 years old to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .05 — .07%.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For information about a specific case, speak to a drunk driving attorney in your area.

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spilled beer.jpgDrunk driving rates of U.S. high school students have drastically fallen over the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC). In a report that was released this week, the CDC claimed it analyzed data from 1991-2011. The data was collected from self-reporting, voluntary, and anonymous surveys in 41 states. The teens were asked in a questionnaire if they drove a motor vehicle one or more times after consuming an alcoholic beverage within 30 days before taking the survey.

The survey found that in 1991, 22.3% of teens aged 16 years or older admitted to driving after drinking alcohol, while only 10.3% admitted to this behavior in 2011. The results in the reporting states varied. There was a higher rate in the Gulf Coast region but some states such as Utah were much lower (4.6%). No data was available for California.

The study did not report how many students were driving in 1991 versus 2011. With the fall in the economy, higher gas prices, and higher unemployment rates among teens, it can be assumed that the amount of teenage high school students that are driving at all is less than in 1991. In addition, the survey only asked students if they had been drinking and driving within the month prior to taking the survey. Considering these shortfalls, the reported drinking and driving rates may be very low.

Over the years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been lobbying states for zero-tolerance laws. California has complied. This means if you are under the age of 21, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle in California with a measurable amount of alcohol in your blood. In addition, you must submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test. The DMV will suspend your driver’s license for one year for the first offense of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above a .01%.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For information about a specific case, speak to a drunk driving attorney in your area.

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San Diego resident and recent Serra High School graduate, Joseph Walsh, 18, plead not guilty to two felony drunk driving charges on August 11th, according to 10news.com.

On May 18th, Walsh was drinking beer at a friend’s home when he decided to drive to get some food. Allegedly, he was driving 50 mph in a 25 mph zone when his car hit a sport utility vehicle and rolled four times. His two passengers were injured along with the driver of the SUV. He was subsequently charged with one count of DUI causing injury and one count of driving with measurable blood alcohol causing injury.

Members of the community showed up at the arraignment and wrote letters in support Walsh. He was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance and was ordered to appear at the preliminary hearing which is scheduled for August 24th.

Walsh’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, was a .19. The legal limit is .08 percent for drivers over the age of 21. Since he was only 18 at the time of the incident, he could also be charged with:

1. California Vehicle Code section 23136, the Zero Tolerance Law, a civil offense that is handled through the DMV;
2. California Vehicle Code section 23140, under 21 with a BAC of .05 – .07 percent, an infraction;
3. California Vehicle Code section 23152, driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

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San Diego City Attorney dismissed 15 drunk driving cases that involved former San Diego police officer, Anthony Arevalos, according to 760kfmb.com.

Arevalos, an 18 year veteran of the department, was arrested and charged with 18 felony counts, including false imprisonment, assault under the color of authority, sexual battery by restraint, and receiving a bribe for separate traffic stops between 2009 and 2011. The San Diego County District Attorney’s office anticipates filing more charges against him, bringing the total number of victims from six to eight, as reported by signonsandiego.com.case dismissed.jpgIn 14 of the dismissed cases, it was alleged in the complaints that the blood alcohol level (BAC) of the defendants exceeded the legal limit of .08%. In the 15th case, the defendant was under 21 and her BAC was alleged to be .05%.

In California, under Vehicle Code section 23136, 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. This is a zero tolerance law. If the under 21 driver submitted to a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS), and the BAC was .01 percent or greater, their driving privilege will be suspended for one year.

Three other DUI cases involving Arevalos were not dismissed because the City Attorney did not need the former San Diego officer’s testimony to prove its case.

[This is a follow-up story previously blogged about on March 31st, 2011, on this site. See SD Cop Investigated Drunk Drivers Then Requested Sexual Favors, Open DUI Cases Dismissed?]

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A San Diego teenager was sentenced after he admitted to driving under the influence and causing an injury accident. (This is a follow-up to the story originally posted on November 17th.)

According to the Union Tribune, the seventeen year old was sentenced to the maximum penalty allowed under state law, 480 days in custody in the San Diego County’s Youthful Offender Unit. Once released, the juvenile will be placed on probation.

This teen’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .21. Under California Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23136, “[I]t 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.”

VC Section 23136 does not preclude prosecution under California Vehicle Code Section 23153, which makes it “unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

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A Vista teen admitted he was driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol on October 18th, when the car he was driving struck a grandfather and toddler in Oceanside. The teen’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was reported by 10news.com as .21.

California has a Zero Tolerance Law that applies to all drivers under the age of 21. This means that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to have a BAC over .01, and on your first offense your driving privilege will be suspended for one year. Further, refusing to take or failing to complete the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test will also result in a one year license suspension.

According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the proportion of under age DUI arrests increased from 7.7% in 1996 to 9.4% in 2006. Less than 1% of all DUI arrests involved juveniles under the age of 18. In this case, the teen was only 17 when the accident occurred.

(“San Diego Under Age Youth Sentenced for DUI Injury Accident” is the follow-up to this story and was posted on November 30th.)

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