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 possession 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 you are 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 21and 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.

• Transporting Alcohol is prohibited for a person who is  under 21 and 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.


•  Vehicle Code 23136 VC: California's Zero Tolerance Law . This is the charge for anyone under 21, who is driving and has an alcohol level of a .01 to a .05 . This is considered an under 21 DUI. 

•  Vehicle Code 23140 VC: California's Zero Tolerance Law . This is the charge for anyone under 21, who is driving and has an alcohol level of a .05 to a .08 . This is considered an under 21 DUI.  

•  Vehicle Code 23152 VC: Driving Under the Influence (a misdemeanor). This is a standard DUI offense that typically results in a weekend in jail, a $2K fine and 3 years of probation. 

~~~Local Chico Student's confiscated Fake IDs from Ray's Liquor~~~    

~~~Local Chico Student's confiscated Fake IDs from Ray's Liquor~~~


Fake ID California

Business and Professions Code BP §25661Using 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). 

How We Can Help with your Underage Alcohol Charge:

·      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.

o  Having a driver’s license is a privilege that the DMV takes very seriously. 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 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. 

·      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 suspension.

·      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.

Anyone, adult or minor, who possesses an open container of alcohol in a prohibited area can be guilty of an infraction. (B&P § 25620)

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. Let’s us fight for your rights ! 


Drivers under 21 and arrested for DUI may also be prosecuted under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC. Also, the DMV typically will suspend one’s driver’s 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 drinking charge!!