Best Words of Advice for My Teenager, The Designated Driver, on Prom Night!

PromOkay, it’s prom night and my son has told me, don’t worry dad, I am the designated driver, I am not going to drink too much! Whoa there “Dude”, there are a couple of things you may need to know when you are going to be the “sober designated driver”.

Since you are underage as in not twenty-one, you cannot have ANY alcohol in your system. And since your friends are probably going to act like complete idiots, there is a small, yet large, chance your friends will draw attention to your car. So you can pretty much plan on getting pulled over. NHTSA, that is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done multiple studies to lead them to believe that one in ten that is 1/10th of ten percent of the drivers of automobiles driving after dark on a weekend are drinking and driving.

It does not take a rocket scientist to predict that if an officer sees a car load of teenagers driving at night on a weekend might be drinking. In essence, you are a target. The CHP and the local police departments will try to come up with any reason to pull you over. Imaginary weaving within the lanes. Crossing over the control line at the light. Pulling a U-turn where there are multiple lines on the road. Rolling a stop sign. Or the classic, “your license plate light was not working.” Whatever it is, they want an opportunity to check out the situation. It was not that long ago when they were in high school, so maybe they are wondering if it is still the same on prom night.

V.C. 23136(a) and VC 23136(b) state, in pertinent part, that notwithstanding the fact that VC 23152(a) and VC 23152(b) make it illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol and drugs, and unlawful to drive with a B.A.C. of .08% or greater, you may be cited for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration or 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test. And furthermore, as stated above, this does not bar you from being arrested straight away for DUI.

All of the legal jargon really means that even if you have a few sips of beer, or as most people call it, “a can of beer” you are going to be cited. You may be saving your friends from a train wreck, automobile accident, falling off a cliff, and various other dangerous activities, but you will be the one who gets in trouble.

I recently had a client that truly was rescuing his friends from certain disaster, but he had a measurable amount of alcohol and was written up. So after our firm was retained, we fought tooth and nail to save him from the jaws of the DMV in the Admin Per Se process arguing that the margin of error with a breathalyzer is .02% and that the benefit of the doubt goes to the accused. Calibration logs, toxicologists and many hours studying the niceties of Title 17 and Sections 13353, 13353.1, 13388, 13389, and 13353.2 to no avail with the DMV.

The result is a one-year suspension of your driving privileges which may be harder on your parents than it is your child.

Our firm will submit a request for review to the DMV to have a supervisor look over the DMV hearing officer’s findings. And a writ to the Superior Court is a possibility for a remedy to the harsh reality of becoming dependent on your parents to get anywhere just after they painstakingly taught you how to drive, get your probationary hours in and finally your written and driving test completed successfully only to have you put it all in jeopardy for one beer.

Finally there is the request for an application for critical need restriction [Section 1335.8(a) VC] license wherein it is imperative that you show the DMV that the parents and/or public transportation simply is not available to get you to school. It is a long an arduous process that requires skill full writing and a handsome dose of pure luck to obtain.

San Diego Defenders has been successful in more than our fair share of these underage battles. But parents, and teenagers, please take heed, it is as difficult as a pure DUI even at the underage level of the lifesaving teenager meaning well.