The legal blood alcohol limit in California is 0.08% for adults over 21, which means any more than that can result in a DUI charge. But the rules are a little different if you're underage.
For those of legal drinking age, 0.08% is estimated to be the equivalent of two drinks over the course of an evening. Still, to avoid being pulled over, it may be best to limit yourself to one drink or just stick to water.
And what about the under 21 crowd? Is it that younger people's metabolisms don't process alcohol as quickly? Nope, California's zero-tolerance law has nothing to do with intoxication.
It has everything to do with the fact that people who are under 21 aren't allowed to drink alcohol -- not even one drink with friends after a tough week.
When it comes to underage drinking, it's hard to catch people in the act. Buying the alcohol is illegal, and providing it to someone underage is too. But unless police walk in while you're in mid-sip, there's little chance they'll be able to charge you.
That changes, though, if an underage drinker is caught with anything over a 0.01% blood alcohol level. After all, how would you have brought that number up if you weren't drinking?
There are rumors about mouthwash bringing your BAC up slightly, but it likely won't push it over 0.01% (unless you're swallowing the stuff). If you get caught with alcohol in your blood stream, police will know you were drinking.
The charge for being caught behind the wheel with alcohol in your system if you're underage is an automatic one-year license suspension. It's a pretty steep penalty that's designed to stop young people from drinking and if they do, to keep them off the road.
Lest you think you can avoid an alcohol breath test and avoid the penalty, for under-21 drivers, refusing the test is grounds to suspend your license as well.
California takes DUIs seriously. For drivers under 21, the penalties are steep even if you only had one drink. It's a bad idea to drink and drive but if you're underage, it's really going to cost you.