Under 21 Driving Under the Influence One-Year Driving Privilege Suspension – Obtaining a “Critical Need to Drive” License

In California it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years of age to drive a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by either a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test. In the Vehicle Code this is referred to as the “Zero Tolerance Law.” Upon arrest or detention for an alleged violation of Vehicle Code section 23136(a), the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) will suspend the person’s privilege to operate a motor for one year. This one year suspension can create difficulty in going to school, going to work, and going to the doctor.

Fortunately, pursuant to Vehicle Code § 13353.8(a), after the DMV has issued a suspension order for a violation of Vehicle Code section § 23136(a), the DMV has the authority to issue a “Critical Need to Drive” (“CNTD”) license. In order to apply for this license, the applicant must have submitted to the preliminary alcohol screening test, as requested by an officer, must have been under 21 at the time of the arrest and the person must serve the 30 day mandatory suspension period prior to applying for the CNTD license. In addition, one of the following circumstances must exist: (1) School or other transportation facilities are inadequate for regular attendance at school and at activities authorized by the school; (2) Reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate and operation of a vehicle is necessary due to illness of a family member or (3) Transportation facilities are inadequate, and use of a motor vehicle is necessary in the transportation to and from the employment of the applicant and the applicant’s income from such employment is essential in the support of the family, or where the applicant’s operation of a motor vehicle is essential to an enterprise from which an appreciable portion of the income of the family will be derived. (Vehicle Code § 12513).

In order to apply, the applicant must send the DS 694 “Application for Critical Need Restriction” and accompanying proof to the “Driver Safety Actions Unit” located at 2570 24th Street, M/S J256, Sacramento, California 95818. If granted this relief, the applicant will be permitted to drive to restricted locations based upon the DMV approval.

If you need assistance with an arrest for a violation of Vehicle Code section 23136(a) or if you have any questions, please our office at 626-577-7700.


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