In the State of Arizona, A.R.S. §4-244 (34) makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol.
Penalty for Underage Drinking and Driving
Generally speaking, it is irrelevant if the individual is impaired by alcohol or not. Arizona has a zero tolerance policy towards the crime of drinking and driving if a person under 21 has alcohol in their body. With that being said, even if the individual is perfectly capable of driving the vehicle with ease, it is still a violation to have alcohol on the breath or in the system when he or she is under the age of 21. In many instances, a defendant is charged with this crime in addition to DUI, DWI or Extreme DUI. Underage drinking and driving is also referred to as underage DUI or baby DUI. Upon conviction, you can be sentenced to jail time that ranges anywhere from zero days to six months. Given the nature of the offense and the defendant's age, it's likely that probation will be issued versus jail time. However, it is still an option for punishment. If you are convicted of this offense, expect a maximum fine of $2,500 with an 84% surcharge. In addition, the offender's driver's license will be suspended for up to two years. At the same time, it is possible for the judge to allow the individual to apply for a driving permit thru the DMV so that they can drive to and from work, school and any court ordered alcohol courses during those two years. However, you will be required to have an ignition interlock and SR 22 insurance for this to happen.
Defenses to Underage Drinking and Driving
There are several legal defenses to underage drinking and driving that an experienced attorney can use. There is "no reasonable suspicion to stop," which means that the officer is not permitted to stop someone based on their age, race, gender or any other reason that can be considered discriminatory without having sufficient reason. Additionally, there is the "No actual physical control" defense. This means that if an individual pulls over when they have had too much to drink and sleeps it off with the engine still running along with the heat or air conditioning on, they are not really in control of the vehicle. In other words, this means they are not guilty of the underage DUI. There is also the defense of "no probable cause for arrest," which means that the officer had no probable cause to believe that someone had consumed alcohol. Additional common defenses for this offense involve "denial of right to counsel" or a "Miranda rights violation".
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