While consuming alcohol under the legal age of 21 is illegal everywhere in the United States, different state laws dictate how to handle underage drinking and driving. Some states have a lower blood alcohol content threshold for drivers under 21; for example, .02% is a common BAC for drivers under 21 years of age. Most states say that between .01-.05% blood alcohol content is sufficient cause for issuing a DUI charge. Unlike these states, Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving.
This means that as someone under the age of 21, if you are found to have any amount of alcohol in your body while driving, you will be charged with a DUI. Arizona has one of the strictest sets of laws regarding DUIs, and they have made it clear that they want to crack down on drunk driving, especially for underage drivers. The zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving results in tough penalties for anyone under 21 convicted of driving under the influence.
Only 10% of licensed drivers are under 21, yet they are responsible for around 17% of all fatal alcohol related car crashes. This sobering statistic makes it clear why underage drinking and driving is of such concern, but at the Stewart Law Group, we believe you deserve to be fairly treated, properly defended, and deserve a reasonable sentence, no matter what the charge. We fight to ensure your rights are protected, and if convicted, you only receive the minimum sentence.
Our team of legal experts work to ensure that your charge is accurate and dealt with appropriately. Often, officers make errors when performing sobriety tests or executing breathalyzer tests, so we analyze all the prosecution’s evidence against you to find potential mistakes, resulting in a lowering of charges or, in some cases, dropping them all together.
If convicted of underage drinking and driving, a first time offender could face a minimum of 24 hours in jail, and up to ten days. In addition, the underage driver will have their license suspended for anywhere between 90 and 360 days and have to pay a $1600 fine. Second time offenders are given harsher sentences of jail time ranging from 30 days to 90 days, a fine up to $2500, and a one year suspension. The consequences that arise from a conviction of a DUI for individuals under 21 are significant. The long-term effects will be felt for years after the conviction, as they can have an impact on college admissions, scholarships, job opportunities, and insurance rates.
These effects go well beyond your criminal court case and can be life changing. This is why it is important to go into your criminal defense with legal representation that knows how to achieve the lowest possible penalties and minimize negative consequences. The Stewart Law Group have years of experience and expertise dedicated to protecting your future and defending your rights.
In addition to being charged with driving under the influence, an underage driver may face related charges. For example, if there are other drunk passengers under the age of 21, you could face a charge for distributing alcohol to other minors.
Other potential charges include being a minor in possession of alcohol or soliciting alcohol. Child endangerment charges are also a very real possibility, and some could face additional citations regarding possible vehicle maintenance violations. Some officers will attempt to prove that a fake ID was used to buy the alcohol, which would result in a charge for possession of falsified identification documents.
It is vital for you or your child to seek legal advice immediately to assess the charges and determine the best possible strategy for defense. By looking at a total picture of your related charges, the Stewart Law Group will ensure the entire case is handled efficiently and effectively to result in the best possible scenario.
If you or your child has been charged with underage driving under the influence, you must find quality legal representation to defend your case. The state of Arizona does not take underage drinking and driving lightly, and the potential consequences are substantial. Contact us today to find out how the Stewart Law Group can help you or your child navigate the legal system during their criminal court case and Arizona Motor Vehicle Division hearing.