Arizona’s DUI laws are harsh. Even if you are under 21, you will face criminal charges if you’re found to have driven while under the influence of alcohol. You can be found guilty even if you had one drink, regardless of your degree of intoxication. If you or your child were arrested for a juvenile DUI, you may be worried about the consequences of a conviction. Seasoned Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who uses his insights and skill to defend the accused, and he may be able to help.Juvenile DUI
The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21-years-old, and Arizona is one of the harshest states when it comes to drunk driving by minors. If a driver is under age 21 and caught drinking while driving, he or she can face serious criminal charges. The juvenile driver’s degree of intoxication doesn’t matter the way it does with adult drivers. Juveniles who drive while drunk are measured according to a policy of zero tolerance.
When a juvenile, or someone under age 21, is in control of a car or driving at the time of a DUI stop and has consumed any alcohol, they will be charged with a juvenile DUI. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Arizona Revised Statutes section 4-244(34) forbids underage drinking.Penalties
The potential penalties are significant for a juvenile DUI conviction. The defendant can face 6 months in jail and up to $750 in fines. There’s no mandatory minimum incarceration period, but a driver under age 21 faces a mandatory two-year loss of the privilege to drive and their driver’s license will be suspended. If you or your child needs to drive to get to school, work or extracurricular activities, this can present a big challenge. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to present a strong defense based on violations of constitutional rights or other grounds. Where it’s not possible to secure dismissal of the charge, it may be possible to advocate for alternative sentencing.
It’s important to be aware that judges can simply limit driving privileges during the DUI suspension so that a juvenile driver can go to and from home, school, and a job. Usually, an ignition interlock device must be installed in the car at the expense of the underage person or his or her parents.
Many insurance companies will respond adversely to a juvenile who is currently on a restricted driving permit, and this can present an additional challenge. The defendant may face the inability to get coverage. And if an insurer is willing to insure the defendant, it will probably charge a very expensive premium.Other Charges
In addition to a DUI charge, drivers who have alcohol in their system face other potential criminal charges. These charges could include soliciting alcohol, minor in possession of alcohol, identity theft, possession of a fake ID, and other traffic violations. These charges, if they lead to convictions, can also result in penalties.Defenses
There are defenses an attorney may be able to raise on your or your child’s behalf in response to a juvenile DUI charge. In order to stop a driver, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. If he didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to stop you, it may be possible to get evidence obtained during the stop suppressed. For example, if evidence a juvenile had been drinking was obtained through a field sobriety test, but the officer had no reason to stop the juvenile in the first place, it may be possible to get that evidence thrown out. Similarly, if an offer doesn’t have probable cause for an arrest, it may be possible to get any evidence obtained after the arrest excluded from the case.Retain a Seasoned DUI Attorney in the Phoenix Area
If you or your child has been charged with a juvenile DUI in Phoenix, you may be concerned about harsh penalties. Accordingly, it is advisable to retain a seasoned DUI lawyer who can help to build a defense. Mr. Novak is available to represent juvenile defendants in the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and across Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact us via our online form.