Under 18 Drunk Driving 

If you have been arrested for DUI, you have two problems – A DMV problem and a criminal court problem.  The DMV and the Court process are separate and each must be fought independently.  The DMV case relates to your driving privilege in California and whether your license will be returned, suspended, or revoked.  The court case deals with punishment for the crime of DUI and may include juvenile hall time, community service, fines, alcohol education classes, license suspensions, probation or a combination of these things. 

DMV License Suspension vs. Court Suspension

There are two ways your driving privilege in California can be suspended.  If you lose the DMV hearing and you are under 21, a 1 year suspension will occur.  If a judge makes a finding against you in juvenile court, they usually suspend your driving privilege for one year in alcohol related cases. 


The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person under age 21, arrested or detained for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, who (1) takes a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, or a chemical test (blood or breath test) with a BAC level of 0.01% or more, or (2) refuses to take or fails to complete a PAS or other chemical test.  If you took a PAS or chemical test, and the results showed a 0.01% BAC level or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for one year.  If you refused or failed to complete a PAS or other chemical test, your driving privilege will be suspended for one year for a first offense, revoked for two years for a second offense in ten years, and revoked for three years for three or more offenses in ten years.

Under 21 DUI DMV Hearings – DMV Must Prove Driving with 0.01 BAC or higher

To win, the DMV must have direct evidence of the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).  To get chemical test results into evidence, the DMV has the burden of showing proof that the particular device was in working order, the test used was properly administered, and the operator was competent and qualified.  In these cases it is important to subpoena the officer and the maintenance and calibration records.  Officers usually don’t know the regulations which they are supposed to follow, and in some cases the machine and calibration records prove there is a problem with the machine.  If you can show that the device was not in working order, that the test wasn’t properly administered, or that the operator wasn’t competent, you should win the DMV hearing.       

Obtaining an Under 21 “Critical Need” to Drive License

Under certain circumstances, under 21 DUI’s are eligible for a “critical need to drive” license.  After a 30-day suspension period, you may apply for a critical need license only if you completed a PAS or chemical test with a BAC level of 0.01% or more and have a critical need to drive.  A critical need restriction is very limited.  To be eligible for the restriction you must verify that (1) a specific critical need condition exists, and (2) all other transportation is inadequate.  Only first offenders that completed a PAS or other chemical test are eligible to apply for a critical need restricted driver license.  Consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you apply for your critical need to drive license.