Criminal Defense for Underage DUIs

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Underage DUI in Arizona

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Phoenix AZ Underage DUI Defense Lawyers

In the state of Arizona, the crime of an Underage DUI has serious ramifications associated with it. In accordance with A.R.S. § 4-244(34), the state has a zero-tolerance policy for those charged with underage drinking. The implication by the enforcement of Arizona law to this degree is that if you are under the age of 21 are driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be charged with an underage DUI even if you only had a few sips of beer.

At Belén Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys have handled hundreds of DUI cases over the years, meaning you’ll get the skilled representation that only comes with a seasoned DUI defense lawyer. If you or your child have been charged with an underage DUI, reach out to the Phoenix DUI lawyers at Belén Law Firm right away to ensure a timely and aggressive defense is raised on your behalf.

Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Under 21

A DUI can be a mark of shame for many people, and the impact that it can have on a person’s potential success in the future is extremely significant. All that taken into account, an underage DUI in Arizona can incur even more penalties because of how young the defendant is and how much of their life has the chance of being negatively affected. 

This is not even to mention the criminal penalties enforced by Arizona law. That is why it is imperative that anyone charged with an underage DUI in the Phoenix area seeks out a strong defense attorney to have their back the whole way through. 

Our team of experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyers at Belén Law Firm will strive to ensure that all measures are being taken to defend you in the courtroom. For a free consultation, contact our team at 602-715-0908.

Arizona Alcohol Limit

For those who are over the age of 21, being caught driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) over 0.08% can result in a DUI. However, under ARS § 4-244(34), if the defendant is under the legal drinking age, they can incur underage DUI charges by having any detectable alcohol in their system and driving or being in control of a motor vehicle.

The exact statute states that it is illegal “for a person under twenty-one years of age to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in the person’s body.”

A.R.S. § 4-244(34)

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-244(34) dictates that anyone underage caught driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system will incur a misdemeanor. In contrast to a standard DUI, an underage DUI charge has no threshold for alcohol-based intoxication. A blood alcohol content of any level is enough to charge a minor with an underage DUI, and this means drinking alcohol at any degree puts them at risk if they are in actual physical control of the vehicle.

However, by seeking counsel from a DUI defense law office in Arizona, charges may be able to be dismissed. For example, if the defense finds that law enforcement had no probable cause for their sobriety testing, the defendant may avoid criminal penalties. 

What Happens if You Get a DUI Under 21 in Arizona?

Arizona DUI enforcement states that an underage DUI charge (also called Baby DUI) – under normal circumstances – is to be ruled as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This sentence may entail up to six months in jail and the possibility of court fees of up to $750. Unlike with a standard DUI, however, an underage DUI conviction does not have mandatory jail time or fine requirements. 

An underage DUI conviction can also result in the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. This suspension would result in limited driving privileges by prohibiting the control of a motor vehicle for up to two years. 

The risk of receiving a baby DUI is significantly more damaging because of the potential to incur additional DUI penalties such as regular DUI charges. If the defendant detained for suspicion of underage drinking and driving is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, they will be subject to regular DUI penalties.

Phoenix AZ Underage DUI Lawyers

What is the Penalty for Underage DUI?

According to Arizona DUI laws, defendants under the legal drinking age charged with drunk driving can incur the following penalties:

  • Sentencing and Fines 
  • Driver’s License Suspension 
  • Arizona Court-Ordered Alcohol Classes 
  • Community Service
  • Mandatory Traffic Survival School Courses
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device.

Other penalties may also reveal themselves later in the future of someone with an underage DUI on their record. The person maybe find it difficult to set a contract with an insurance company, and – if they do – they may find that their insurance rates are set exorbitantly high.

Sentencing and Fines

As previously stated, an underage drinking and driving incident will be ruled as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In this case, the sentencing can be up to six months in jail and $750 in fines.

However, underage drivers may face additional criminal charges if field sobriety tests find that they have a minimum BAC of 0.08%. Depending on the degree of the drunk driving charges – such as an extreme DUI or a super extreme DUI – harsher consequences for jail time and fines may be applied.

Driver’s License Suspension

If the defendant is found to have been in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of their arrest, then they will receive a restricted license for up to two years. For a teenager, this lack of freedom may be seen as the most severe penalty of all.

Arizona Court-Ordered Alcohol Classes

Whether or not underage DUI penalties incur court-ordered classes are contingent upon the degree of the charge and the amount of priors the minor has. 

Arizona state law may require the these classes in response to underage drinking and driving case. If so, the defendant will be required to attend 16 hours of education and 20 hours of group counseling with other minors in a classroom setting.

Community Service

Arizona law can mandate that defendants charged with underage drinking and driving are required to work a specified amount of community service hours on behalf of a civil organization. This ruling is given down as a form of rehabilitation for minors. 

The hours that a defendant are ordered to serve are intended as a substitute for the time that they would otherwise be serving in jail, in accordance with underage DUI laws.

Can a Minor Drive with Alcohol in the Car?

In conjunction with Arizona’s zero-tolerance policies for driving under the influence, ARS § 4-244(9) also states that it is against the law for an underage driver to be caught possessing alcohol in the vehicle, even if it is unopened.

Unopened Alcohol in Car Under DUI

A.R.S. § 4-244(9) dictates that it is unlawful for:

“…a person under the legal drinking age to buy, receive, have in the person’s possession or consume liquor.”

As such, any alcohol found in the possession of a minor is against the law and can result in their arrest.

Phoenix, AZ Underage DUI Defense Lawyer

Driving drunk can lead to devastating penalties for anyone involved. However, Arizona law is especially hard on minors because of its zero-tolerance stance on underage driving under the influence of alcohol. And remember, the ramifications for an underage DUI are even heavier for the defendants because of the potential for additional penalties from added charges such as a regular or extreme DUI. It is important to discern whether or not law enforcement had probable cause to test the defendant to begin with.

This is why it is imperative that anyone affected by an underage DUI charge in Phoenix, Arizona seek out a strong DUI defense lawyer like Belén Olmedo Guerra. Our experienced team at Belén Law Firm has navigated the Arizona legal system for years and has handled hundreds of cases involving DUIs and juvenile offenses, and we’re prepared to help you achieve the best possible resolution for your individual case today. You can reach us at 602-715-0908 or by completing the online intake form found on our site. Our AZ criminal defense attorneys offer free case evaluations and are available for 24/7 legal advice.

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