California Motor Vehicle Code 23224
Persons Under the Age of 21 and the Possession of Alcohol in a Vehicle
According to Vehicle Code 23224, no one under the age of 21 is permitted to drive a vehicle that is also transporting an alcoholic beverage. The reason for this is that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, and further illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have alcohol in his or her possession.
Any alcohol, or other substances, in the vehicle with the underage driver will be considered within the driver's possession. An exemption to this rule is if the underage driver is accompanied by an adult, adult relative, or other adult designated by a legal guardian who assumes possession of the alcohol.
If the driver is employed by a licensee under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act and is driving with alcohol in the vehicle during work hours and in the course of his or her employment, it is also OK to transport alcohol.
If an underage driver is found to have alcohol in the vehicle while driving, but a defense is supported by the parents that the alcohol played a role in reasonable instructions given by a parent or legal guardian and the alcohol does not belong to the driver, then punishment for the underage driver may be avoided.
For the sake of young drivers, avoiding contact with alcohol in any form or container while driving may be the easiest way to steer clear from confusion or penalty.