With the end of the school year approaching, teenagers in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Napa County may be looking forward to prom festivities. Prom weekends often include underage drinking, leading to charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or more serious consequences.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in three alcohol-related fatal motor vehicle accidents involving a teenage driver occurs between April and June each year, coinciding with the peak of prom season. If your underage child is caught with alcohol in Santa Rosa or Sonoma County, they could face serious legal consequences.
If your child has been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney at Wilber Law Offices, P.C.
Why Teenage DUI Is So Dangerous
Although the percentage of teenage drivers who drink and drive has decreased by 54 percent since 1991, this is still a serious problem that can have life-altering consequences. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which slows reaction times and impairs judgment.
Teenage drivers are three times more likely than more experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident, and alcohol’s effects significantly increase this risk. For teenagers, drinking any amount of alcohol makes driving unsafe.
Legal Consequences for an Under-21 DUI
California has a Zero Tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. While the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for a driver over age 21 is 0.08 percent, an underage driver with any amount of alcohol in their blood can be charged with DUI. The penalties your child faces depends on their BAC at the time of the traffic stop.
If the driver’s BAC is between 0.01 and 0.05 percent, they face points off their license, fines, and a driver’s license suspension for one year. The driver’s license suspension is an administrative suspension, and your attorney can fight to have your child’s driver’s license reinstated.
With a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 percent, the driver faces fines, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and enrollment in an alcohol education program for at least three months if over age 18.
An underage driver with a BAC over 0.08 percent has a misdemeanor charge on their criminal record if convicted. Penalties include driver’s license suspension, up to six months in jail, three to five years probation, fines up to $1,000, and enrollment in an alcohol education program for at least three months if over age 18.
Penalties increase if this is a second or subsequent DUI charge or if someone is injured or killed. Your child may face additional charges relating to the same incident, such as refusing a breath test, possessing alcohol, or open container. These charges carry additional penalties.
Call an Experienced DUI Attorney in Sonoma County
Peer pressure to drink during prom season is strong, and if your child has been charged with DUI in Sonoma County or Santa Rosa, the experienced attorneys at Wilber Law Offices, P.C. will build a strong defense for them.
Just because your child is charged with DUI does not mean they are guilty. Law enforcement may have wrongly identified your child as the driver, the traffic stop may not have been legal, or the alcohol detected during the breath test may not be from an alcoholic beverage, but from another source such as mouthwash.
We have a track record of success for getting our client’s charges dismissed or reduced, and we can do the same for your child. Contact us today online or by phone at (707) 986-4482.