West Covina Underage DUI Attorney

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It is illegal in every state of the US to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving under the influence (DUI) can incur severe penalties that escalate with subsequent offenses, and the nature of a DUI violation also influences the severity of the offender’s sentence. California upholds strict DUI statutes, including specific rules for drivers under the age of 21. The “zero tolerance” policy in effect in California means that any underage driver arrested for DUI can incur more severe penalties than they may expect.

At the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores, our team understands the impact an underage DUI offense can have on a young driver’s future. Whether you made a mistake or were wrongfully arrested for DUI, your West Covina underage DUI attorney will be instrumental in minimizing your punishment or clearing your name. Our firm has the resources and skill to manage the most difficult underage DUI cases in West Covina, CA. If you or a loved one have recently been arrested and charged with underage DUI, you should understand the legal proceedings you face and the potential defenses available to you.

Why Do I Need a West Covina Underage DUI Attorney?

Many individuals charged with DUI and other criminal offenses in California believe they can save money on legal fees by having public defenders represent them. Public defenders are available at no cost to anyone facing criminal charges. Most are capable attorneys who will provide the highest level of representation they possibly can. However, most public defenders must manage several cases at a time and can typically devote very little individual attention to any given case. While most public defenders are capable of providing satisfactory legal counsel, they simply cannot match the individual attention your case could receive from a private West Covina underage DUI attorney.

Your lawyer can help you to quickly identify the potential defenses available in your situation. They will closely examine the conditions of your arrest and booking to ensure the police did not violate due process or your Constitutional rights. Unfortunately, many drivers under the age of 21 arrested for DUI experience these issues without realizing it because they are not fully informed of their rights.

Do not make the mistake of believing that your first-time DUI will not entail severe penalties. To stand the best chance of avoiding conviction or, at the very least, mitigating your sentencing, it’s essential to work with an experienced West Covina underage DUI attorney.

California Zero Tolerance Law for Underage DUI

California upholds a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) standard when it comes to DUI arrests. The legal BAC limit for drivers over the age of 21 in California is .08%. Any BAC measured above this level will result in an arrest for DUI. Since it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol, California enforces a zero tolerance policy for underage drivers, meaning any detectable amount of BAC can potentially result in an arrest for underage DUI. This may seem unfair due to the fact that even a .01% BAC reading could potentially lead to zero tolerance for an underage driver. Any BAC reading over .05% will result in an underage DUI

The penalties for DUI, even a first-time offense, can be quite severe:

  • An individual convicted of DUI can expect a driver’s license suspension. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically place an administrative suspension on the driver’s license as soon as they are arrested, and the judge overseeing their criminal case will likely order an additional suspension of their driver’s license. However, these two suspensions will typically overlap and typically last for one year.
  • DUI conviction will entail a fine of up to $300, and the judge may also order the defendant to pay penalty assessments based on the severity of their offense. In total, the financial penalty for an underage DUI in California can amount to thousands of dollars when you factor in these penalty assessments and legal fees.
  • Jail time is unlikely for most underage DUI offenders in California, but it is possible if the offender harmed anyone due to their intoxicated driving or caused significant property damage.
  • An underage driver convicted of DUI in California will likely need to attend a mandatory drug and alcohol counseling course for three to nine months.

It is essential for any minor convicted of DUI to know that if they are convicted of DUI under the age of 21 and are arrested for another DUI within ten years of the first conviction, the penalties will increase dramatically. Additionally, any DUI arrest that results from an accident that caused injuries or fatalities will also increase the defendant’s penalty.

Potential Defenses Against Underage DUI Charges in California

Police officers in California must establish probable cause to conduct a traffic stop for suspected DUI. This means an officer must have reason to believe a driver is intoxicated before they can pull them over. For example, if a police officer observes a driver speeding, they have the right to conduct a traffic stop for the moving violation. If the officer then observes an open alcohol container in the driver’s vehicle, or if they detect the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath, these factors will establish probable cause and justify an arrest for DUI.

California’s implied consent law requires any driver over the age of 21 to submit to chemical testing for DUI after an arrest for suspected DUI. However, there is no need for a driver over the age of 21 to submit to preliminary alcohol screening with a breathalyzer device, and doing so could potentially provide the police with the probable cause they need to arrest the driver for DUI. Drivers under the age of 21 in California do not have the ability to refuse a preliminary alcohol screening, so a breathalyzer test could give the police the grounds they need to arrest the driver for underage DUI.

Your West Covina underage DUI attorney can help you determine the best available defenses in your situation. For example, they may challenge the breathalyzer result and assert that something you ate that day caused a false positive, or your attorney may challenge the conditions under which the police administered your BAC test.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do during an arrest for underage DUI in West Covina is to exercise your right to remain silent and secure legal counsel as soon as possible. An experienced West Covina underage DUI attorney can advise you of your best available defenses in this situation. Contact the Law Office of Daniel P. Flores today to learn how our firm can assist you after an arrest for underage DUI in West Covina.


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