In Arizona, per A.R.S. §4-244 (34) “Underage Drink and Drive” or “Underage DUI”, it is illegal for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) years to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in that person’s body.
It is irrelevant whether the person is actually impaired by the alcohol. In other words, you could be completely sober and capable of driving perfectly, yet it is still a violation to have any alcohol on your breath while driving if you are under the age of 21. However, many times these cases are charged in conjunction with a DUI , DWI, or Extreme DUI charge.
Watch this short video where David explains Underage DUI / Drinking and Driving in Arizona:
If you have been charged with Underage Drinking and Driving in Phoenix or anywhere within the State of Arizona you need expert legal representation. Arizona takes a very hard line to minors driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DM Cantor are available 24 hours a day to review your case with a Free Consultation. Call 602-307-0808 or click here to fill out our confidential contact form.
Penalties for Underage Drink and Drive
Underage DUI charges by themselves don’t require any jail time and usually if this is your first offense you will be given probation. However, a young person can still be sentenced by the judge to:
- Jail from anywhere from zero (0) days up to six (6) months.
- In addition, there can be a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus an 84% surcharge and it is mandatory that the person’s license be suspended for two (2) years.
- The judge is allowed to order that the DMV issue a restricted driving permit which allows the person to drive to and from work, school, and any court ordered alcohol classes during that two (2) year period.
- The heaviest consequence occurs when the vast majority of insurance companies refuse to insure a young person who is currently on a restricted driving permit during those two (2) years. If an insurance company will insure the young person, it will be at an incredibly high rate.
The penalties for minors driving under the influence can haunt someone for the rest of their life with high insurance premiums and other consequences.
Legal Defenses for Underage Drink and Drive
- “No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop” Officers are not permitted to stop or detain someone based on pretexts regarding race, religion, gender, age, sexual preference nor on a host of other discriminatory and legally insufficient reasons.
- “No Actual Physical Control” If a person has had too much to drink, pulls off the roadway, leaves the engine running with the A/C or heater on, and attempts to “sleep it off”, then they are not in “actual physical control” of their vehicle and are not guilty of DUI, DWI, or Underage Drink and Drive. However, remember that it is still a crime for an underage person to consume alcohol and there are other charges that could be filed against them.
- “No Probable Cause for Arrest” If an officer did not have probable cause that a person had consumed alcohol, then the arrest will be invalidated (i.e. if the Field Sobriety Tests were improperly administered). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set forth guidelines regarding FSTs. The tests should not be given if the suspect:
- is 50 pounds or more overweight
- has any back, hip, leg, knee, or ankle injuries
- has any disability effecting balance
- is wearing shoes with heels two (2) inches or higher
Remember, you always have the right to refuse Field Sobriety Tests (i.e., the “physical” tests). Do not believe the Officer if he tells you otherwise! If the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) or “eye test” was given by an officer not yet certified to give that test, it will be inadmissible in court.
Other Common Defenses to Underage DUI
Note: if the only basis for Underage Drink and Drive arrest is refusing to perform FSTs, then the arrest will be invalidated.
- “Denial of Right to Counsel” When arrested for Under-age DUI or DWI, upon requesting an Arizona DUI Attorney, the police must get you to a phone as soon as it is reasonably possible. If they ignore your request, or wait too long, this could be grounds for dismissal.
- “Inaccuracy of the Breath or Blood Testing Device” The AZ Department of Health Services (DHS) has set forth rules for the proper maintenance of breath testing devices. They must be calibrated to within a 10% accuracy range every thirty-one (31) days. In addition, the machine goes through a seven (7) test Standard Quality Assurance Procedure (SQAP) every ninety (90) days. If any of the maintenance checks are out of tolerance, then all breath tests given during the time interval between the two maintenance checks will be inadmissible. The prosecutor will not point this out for you.
- “Miranda rights violation” In Arizona, the standard of whether any inculpatory statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.
- Incorrect Police Reports Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and inaccurate crime scene description.
It is important to hire a skilled DUI defense lawyer who has knowledge of all the defenses possible when fighting Underage DUI charges in Arizona. A person under the age of 21 has their whole life ahead of them and a DUI conviction like this can tarnish a reputation and have negative consequences for years to come.
Contact DM Cantor and speak to an Arizona DUI Attorney. We will assist you with your Underage Drink and Drive case.