Underage DUI in Arizona: The Laws and Penalties

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Underage DUI: What You Need to Know

Welcome to our article on Arizona laws, charges, and penalties for an underage DUI. As a Phoenix DUI defense law firm, the Shaw Law Firm is committed to providing helpful and informative content on legal issues related to drunk driving.

In this article, we will explain Arizona’s laws and punishments for an underage DUI, also known as a Minor DUI. We will also discuss the Driver’s License Suspension & Restrictions (SIIRDL) and how to defend against DUI charges.

Did you know that according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), underage drunk driving is a significant issue in the state? In 2020, there were over 1,200 DUI arrests of drivers under the age of 21 in Arizona.

This is a concerning statistic, and it is crucial to understand the laws and liabilities surrounding underage drinking and driving to prevent this behavior and its associated consequences.

We will cover the following topics:

ARS 4-244(34) Underage DUI Laws Explained

In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drive or be in physical control with any amount of alcohol in their system.

Arizona is one of only a few states in the country with a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under 21.

This means that any amount of alcohol detected in an underage driver’s system can result in a DUI arrest.

Under ARS 4-244(34), also known as the “baby DUI” law, an underage DUI is defined as operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle with any Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.00% and above.

It is important to note that underage DUI is not limited to alcohol consumption.

A person under twenty-one years of age, who is caught with any amount of drugs in their system, can also be charged.

Here are some examples of Underage DUI scenarios:

  1. A 19-year-old driver is pulled over for a broken taillight. During the traffic stop, the officer smells alcohol on the driver’s breath and administers a breathalyzer test, which shows a BAC of 0.02%.
  2. A 20-year-old driver is involved in a single-car accident. When the police arrive on the scene, they notice the driver’s slurred speech and administer a field sobriety test, which the driver fails.
  3. An 18-year-old driver is pulled over for speeding. The officer smells marijuana in the car and administers a drug test, which shows the presence of THC in the driver’s system. The driver is arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs.

What are the Arizona Underage DUI Penalties for Minors?

The penalties for an Underage Arizona DUI are severe and can have long-lasting consequences.

A first-time offender faces the following penalties:

  • A mandatory minimum jail of 24 hours and a maximum of 10 days in jail
  • Fines and fees of up to $2,500
  • A suspended driver’s license of up to two years
  • Completion of an alcohol or drug screening, education, or treatment program
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for one year following the license reinstatement.

The penalties for subsequent offenses become more severe, including longer jail time, higher fines, longer suspensions, and mandatory IID installation.

Felony Aggravated Penalties for Underage DUI

An aggravated underage DUI in Arizona is a more severe offense than a regular DUI and carries harsher punishments.

Aggravating factors can include having a suspended license, having a BAC of 0.15% or higher, being involved in a car accident while under the influence, or having other minors in the vehicle.

If an underage driver is convicted of an aggravated underage DUI, the penalties can include:

  • Up to two years in jail
  • Fines of up to $4,500
  • Mandatory three-year driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling and testing
  • Community service
  • Ignition interlock device installation in their vehicle for up to five years following license reinstatement.

If a minor driver is involved in an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties may be even more severe.

If the accident results in serious injury or death, the driver may face felony charges and a lengthy prison sentence.

In Arizona, it is illegal for a person under 18 to be in a vehicle with any driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Having other minors in the vehicle while driving under the influence can also result in additional charges and liabilities.

This offense is known as “minor in consumption of alcohol in a vehicle” and carries sentences that include community service and fines.

If a driver is caught driving with a suspended license, the punishments for an aggravated underage DUI can be even more severe.

In addition to the penalties listed above, the driver may face additional charges for driving on a suspended license.

Driver’s License Suspension & Restricted License (SIIRDL)

In addition to the criminal sentences, a conviction for an under 21 DUI in Arizona also results in a mandatory license suspension.

A first-time offender faces a mandatory two-year suspension, while a second offense within seven years can result in a suspension of up to five years.

However, if the driver is eligible, they may be able to apply for a court-ordered Special Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s License (SIIRDL).

This license allows the driver to operate a vehicle equipped with an IID during the suspension period.

It is important to note that obtaining a SIIRDL is not automatic and requires the offender to complete an alcohol or drug screening, education, or treatment program, pay any applicable fees, and install an IID.

Additionally, the driver must show that they have a need to drive and that they will comply with the terms of the SIIRDL.

Other Consequences for Underage Drinking and Driving include:

  • Insurance companies may refuse to insure a minor who is on a restricting driving permit.
  • If insurance companies provide coverage, yearly insurance premiums will increase by about $3,000 a year for 3-5 years, which can amount to over $15,000 of extra insurance premiums that the offender will have to pay to drive.
  • A DUI conviction can limit employment prospects and educational opportunities, and it may result in the revocation of scholarships.
  • A criminal record can also interrupt current educational and career goals.

How a DUI Lawyer can Defend You Against Underage DUI in Arizona

One of the most common defenses is to challenge the initial stop or arrest.

If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop or arrest the driver, any evidence obtained after the stop may be inadmissible in court.

A skilled attorney will thoroughly examine the circumstances surrounding the stop and arrest to determine if any constitutional rights were violated.

Another common defense is to question the accuracy of the BAC test.

Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate, and there are several factors that can lead to false readings.

A skilled DUI defense attorney can challenge the results of the BAC test and argue that the driver’s true BAC was below the legal limit.

Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are another area that an experienced attorney can challenge.

These tests are not always reliable indicators of impairment, and a skilled attorney can argue that the driver’s performance on these tests was not indicative of impairment.

Actual physical control of a motor vehicle is an additional defense.

This means the person in question of driving under the influence operating the vehicle. While it is illegal for anyone under twenty-one years of age to consume alcohol, the person being accused can fight the charge if they were not in actual physical control but using the vehicle as shelter.

However, they may face other charges, such as being under the influence of alcohol or a minor in possession of alcohol or drugs.

Finally, it is important to note that the chain of custody of the evidence is crucial in a DUI case.

There are strict protocols that must be followed when collecting and storing evidence, and if there are any issues with the chain of custody, the evidence may be inadmissible in court.

An experienced DUI defense attorney will thoroughly examine the evidence in the case and develop a strategy to challenge the prosecution’s case.

With the right defense, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or even dismissed.

Top 5 FAQs About Drinking and Driving in Arizona

Q: What is the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Arizona for underage drivers?

A: For underage drivers, the legal limit for BAC is 0.00%. Any measurable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system can result in an arrest.

Q: Can an underage driver refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test?

A: Under the Arizona Implied Consent law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle on the state’s roads is deemed to have given their consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine if lawfully arrested for a DUI.

Refusal to take the test will result in an automatic license suspension for one year. Then, a mandatory warrant to draw the person’s blood will be issued.

Q: Can a minor be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs?

A: Yes. It is illegal for anyone to drive under the influence of drugs, including minors. The consequences for drug-related DUI are similar to those for alcohol-related DUI.

Q: What is an ignition interlock device (IID), and how does it work?

A: An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed in a vehicle’s ignition system. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must blow into the device to show that there is no alcohol in their system. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start.

Q: Will a DUI conviction show up on a criminal background check?

A: Yes. An underage-DUI conviction is a criminal offense and will show up on a criminal background check. This can have long-term consequences, including difficulty obtaining employment, issues with college admission, and even housing.


Have You Been Charged with Underage Drinking & Driving in AZ?

Top Arizona DUI Defense Attorney Arja Shah

Charges for a Minor DUI, is a serious offense in Arizona with severe consequences, including jail time, fines, and license suspension.

If you or a loved one is facing charges in Arizona, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney.

At the Shaw Law Firm, we understand the importance of providing excellent legal representation to those facing Underage DUI charges.

Our law office of skilled attorneys has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against DUI charges. We are committed to helping our clients understand their legal options and developing a strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.

Remember, drinking and driving is never worth the risk.

If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.

If you have been charged with Underage DUI, contact the criminal defense lawyers Shaw Law Firm today for a free consultation. We are here to help. Call us now at (602) 560-7408.

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