Underage Alcohol Related Laws & MIPs

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious charge, but for someone under 21 years of age, it is even harsher. Any measurable amount of alcohol while driving is considered an “under 21 DUI”. We successfully handle alcohol related cases including MIP (Minor in Possession) and mitigate sentencing so you can drive to school, work and internships and succeed in life.

The legal age for possessing alcohol in California, is 21. This means holding, carrying, even driving with alcohol in your car and being under 21, is a crime. (B&PC §§ 23004, 25658, 25659).  Those under 21 are not permitted to possess alcohol in public places. This can be a misdemeanor charge with a mandatory 1 year driver’s license suspension. If you did not have possssion or control of the alcohol – that is a legal issue! (B&P § 25662(a)). In Chico, you cannot be in a public place and have an ” open container” even if over 21. (Chico city 9.30.3) 

Penal Code 647(f) California’s drunk in public law prohibits being intoxicated in public to the point where you

  1. cannot exercise care for yourself, or you present a safety risk to others, and/or
  2. interfere with, obstruct or prevent others from using streets, sidewalks or other “public ways.”

Minor In Possession. (B&P § 25662 or VC13202.5) A minor in possession (MIP) can be a misdemeanor offense. Even as an infraction, this requires a 1 year license suspension and a conviction on your criminal record. You can hire an attorney to appear in court on your behalf so you don’t miss school or work. We will conduct a court trial as part of our regular services in an MIP. We are successful in defending clients against underage drinking charges in trial and helping you retain driving privileges. Often a negotiated plea will result in a conviction for a minor infraction rather than a misdemeanor charge. A Minor in Possession ticket in Chico can result in discipline from the school or sports teams, a one year license suspension and fines. 

California’s Open Container Law prohibits driving or being a passenger in a car with an alcoholic beverage in the car that has been opened. If you are a driver or passenger under 21 and are caught violating this law, you face a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. If under 21 years of age, this charge is NOT reducible to an infraction.

  • Anyone, adult or minor, who possesses an open container of alcohol in a prohibited area can be guilty of an infraction. (B&P § 25620)
  • Vehicle Code 23224 VC  prohibits minors under 21 from driving or riding in a car with an alcoholic beverage in the car unless
    • he/she is accompanied by a parent / guardian for the purpose of transporting that alcohol pursuant to the adult’s work, or
    • he/she does so under the direction of his/her employer / parent / guardian.
  • California Vehicle Code 23136 VC: California’s Zero Tolerance Law (a civil offense)
  • California Vehicle Code 23140 VC: Under 21 DUI with a BAC of 0.05% – 0.07% (an infraction), 
  • California Vehicle Code 23152 VC: Driving Under the Influence (a misdemeanor).

Fake ID California – Business and Professions Code BP §25661. Using a fake ID, either one that belongs to someone else or one that is in your name, and used to try to buy alcohol is a misdemeanor offense and results in a one year driver’s license suspension. 

Also, with some exceptions, such as employment, young people under age 21 are prohibited from being in bars or other establishments where liquor is served.   It is also illegal to possess false identification or use a fake ID to buy (or attempt to buy) alcohol or to enter an establishment where alcohol is being served. (B&PC § 25661). While it is legal for those under 21 to be in a home where adults over 21 are drinking alcohol, it is illegal to provide alcohol to anyone under 21. The person providing the alcohol can be held criminally liable for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (PC § 272)

License Suspension

There’s a long list of actions that can result in prohibiting you from getting a driver’s license, or may result in suspending your license. Actions most of us don’t think would have such as DMV consequences! If you received a citation and were ordered to pay fines and did not, that failure to pay can result in a license suspension.

The list of convictions that will cause a license suspension including: vandalism, graffiti, minor in possession, minor transporting alcohol, drunk in public, prostitution, etc. Other laws include a minor who commits a crime with a firearm, drugs involving a car , and a person who is under 21 who is drunk in public. 

How We Can Help

We’ll File a Petition with the Court for a Restricted License. We can complete the paperwork for a restricted driver’s license, requesting the license suspension for only 30 days.

Keep Your License ∙ Avoid a Criminal Record. If you have been issued a citation for minor in possession/underage drinking, talk with an experienced defense attorney first. If  your license gets suspended and are under 21 years of age, you can apply for a “Critical Need” license. Here is the information.  If we are your attorney, we will complete this paperwork for you based on the information you give us.

Expungement or Record Clearing. If the court decides against you, after one year we will file to have your record expunged. That means that when someone does a background check the records will show that your case has been dismissed and employers cannot use that against you.

Because California DUI laws permit some prosecutorial discretion with respect to these situations, they may be open for negotiations for a  plea. This can ultimately result in a better result for you. Lets us fight for your rights!

Underage California DUI laws are, for the most part, different from the laws that regulate drivers who are over 21. These include:

California Vehicle Code 23136 VC California’s zero tolerance law. (Any measurable amount of alcohol for person under 21 yrs.).

California Vehicle Code 23140 VC under 21 DUI with a BAC of 0.05% – 0.07%, which is an infraction.

Drivers under 21 and arrested for DUI may also be prosecuted under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC, described above. Also, the DMV typically will suspend one’s drivers license for 1 year if the person is under 21 and is caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in his/her system.

Underage California DUI laws are different from the laws that regulate drivers who are over 21. Butte County and Glenn County  can be especially conservative on their punishments for alcohol related charges.

Call us today to help fight your underage alcohol-related charge!!