If a driver is stopped by police on suspicion of DUI and that person is under 21, different rules appy. The main section that deals with underage drivers stopped while drinking and driving in Kern County is VC 23140. A violation of Veh C §23140 is punished as an infraction under Veh C §§40000.1 and 42001.25, i.e., by imposition of a substantial fine, a underage dui on the record and by license suspension for one year under Veh C §13202.5(a). If the defendant does not yet have a driver’s license, the court may order the DMV to delay issuing a license for one year after the defendant becomes eligible to drive. DMV Consequences for under 21 drivers accused of drinking and driving can indeed be severe.
In addition to any penalties, the Kern County court must order a defendant, who is between the ages of 18 and 21 and who is convicted of a first violation of Vehicle Code §23140, to attend a licensed DUI program. If the accused has not been convicted of a DUI-related offense within 10 years of the current violation of Veh C §23140, the defendant must complete, at minimum, the education component of the DUI program. If, however, the defendant has a DUI-related conviction within 10 years, the defendant must complete the entire program. The DMV must suspend the defendant’s driver’s license under Veh C §13352.6, and the court must require the defendant to surrender his or her license to the court in accordance with Veh C §13550. Veh C §23502(c). The court must advise the defendant at the time of sentencing that his or her driving privilege will not be restored until he or she has provided the DMV with proof of successful completion of the required DUI program.
An underage DUI in Kern County can be successfully fought if the accused retains a skilled attorney familiar with VC 23140 and VC23136 charges. Numerous defenses are available to challenge the evidence and, in some cases, prevail at the DMV hearing. For example, if the case in court results in an acquittal then the DMV must set aside the pending suspension against the underage driver.
Summary of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
With some exceptions, anyone under the age of 18 who violates a DUI law or ordinance comes within juvenile court jurisdiction. Moreover, in some circumstances, a prosecutor has the discretion to file charges directly against a juvenile in criminal court under Welfare & Institutions Code §707(d), or to seek transfer to adult criminal court after a fitness hearing in juvenile court. Kern County juvenile courts have jurisdiction even when the juvenile violates a federal statute: neither the supremacy clause nor federal law which gives federal courts exclusive jurisdiction over federal offenses preempts California from authorizing a state juvenile court to handle a case in which a juvenile is charged with violating a federal statute.
Whether a felony DUI case should proceed in juvenile court or adult criminal court is not a question of subject matter jurisdiction because each county has only one superior court and that court has jurisdiction over all those who commit felonies regardless of age. If the child is under the statutory age limit, however, the adult court lacks jurisdiction to act and, if it tries the child, it acts in excess of jurisdiction. In that situation, the child has a duty to call his or her age to the attention of the court. Similarly, if the child is over 18 and in Kern county juvenile court, the juvenile court’s acts are in excess of jurisdiction.
The laws of juvenile court are quite different than in adult court. A skilled juvenile DUI lawyer is mandatory if the parents desire a favorable outcome in the case.