The Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving Are Severe

When motorists are caught driving under the influence, it's important that they have skilled attorneys on their side, ones who will respect their legal rights and assist them with their case. That's precisely what we offer at The Law Office of James Novak. We have been helping people throughout the greater Tempe area with effective DUI defense legal counsel that reduces penalties when possible. Ultimately, what we offer is peace of mind.

One issue that comes up a lot is the legal penalties for people under the age of 21 who are caught driving drunk. Let's look at these matters right now.

Drunk Driving at Any Age Is No Laughing Matter

We want to stress that drunk driving is a serious offense and that people should not get behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink. Yet many minors obtain alcohol illegally and engage in dangerous behavior that puts themselves and others at risk.

Legal Age and the Legal Limit

The legal age to consume alcoholic beverages in the state of Arizona is 21.

While the legal limit in Arizona is 0.08 for people of age, there is a zero tolerance policy for minors. This means that there should be no alcohol found in their system if they are pulled over.

Zero Tolerance Means Zero (with Two Exceptions)

While zero means zero for the vast majority of underage motorists, there are two specific exceptions to this strict BAC law:

  • Religious Exception – The alcohol was discovered in the minor's system as a result of a religious ceremony
  • Medical Exception – The alcohol was discovered in the minor's system as part of a medical procedure

Even if an underage motorist meets one or both of these exceptions, the motorist should still be sober in general and not putting others in danger due to reckless habits on the road.

Penalties for Drunk Driving Offenses

For first-time drunk driving convictions of a minor, he or she will face the following in addition to other penalties:

  • Imprisonment of 24 hours to 10 days
  • A fine of $1,600
  • License suspension for up to a year

Keep in mind that there is a look-back period even if a drunk driver is caught behind the wheel and of age.

For second-time drunk driving convictions within seven years of the initial conviction, the driver will face the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment of up to 90 days
  • A fine up to $2,500
  • License suspension for one year

Other Charges Can Mount Up

In addition to other fines and required actions associated with the drunk driving charge, underage drivers may also face additional charges based on their age, including

  • Possession of alcohol by a minor
  • Distribution of alcohol to passengers
  • Possession of false ID
  • Moving vehicle violations (e.g., speeding, reckless driving)

Legal representation is crucial in these cases given how all of the penalties may stack against you. That's why our attorneys are here to help.

Learn More About Drunk Driving Cases

If you or your child has been charged with drinking and driving, it's important that you have skilled lawyers on your side. Be sure to contact our DUI defense attorneys today.

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