Because alcohol consumption is prohibited for individuals under the age of 21, Arizona's policy on anyone arrested for drinking and driving while under the legal age is strict. The state's laws have zero tolerance for any alcohol or intoxicated substance in the bloodstream of an individual caught driving under the legal age. This policy is to promote both cohesiveness between different sets of laws and also to discourage driving under the influence in individuals less than 21 years of age.
Penalties for Underage DUI
The actual penalties for underage DUI depend on the age of the arrested individual. Minors less than 18 years of age are usually under the jurisdiction of juvenile law while adults between the ages of 18 and 21 will be tried as adults for their offenses. For both groups of individuals, any traceable alcohol in the bloodstream at the time of the police stop constitutes arrest, and the alleged offender is subject to harsh penalties.
If your child is under the age of 18 and was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be processed under a different type of laws than adults are. Juvenile penalties for driving under the influence are not necessarily as harsh as that for adults. Jail time is not required for all juvenile DUI convictions, unlike adult convictions. Rather, your child will likely face a two-year license suspension during which time they will be ordered to participate in a court-mandated substance abuse program. If they are given time in jail, it will be spent in juvenile hall and is usually one day for the first offense but can go up to one month for a second offense.
If your child's DUI involved aggravating factors such as a significantly high blood alcohol content level or injury to a third party, the penalties are likely to increase proportionately. Some extreme cases of underage DUI involving a minor are processed under adult law because of the nature of the offense.
If the individual arrested for underage DUI is between the ages of 18 and 21, they will face consequences as an adult who violated the legal drinking age on top of the prohibition against driving under the influence. This means that the consequences for young adults convicted of underage DUI are extremely harsh. The offense carries a sentence of up to 24 months of license suspension, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for at least three years and up to six months in jail. The sentence may also include fines of up to $5,000 in addition to three to five years of probation and court-ordered substance abuse programs. Just like for minors, an aggravated DUI involving an underaged young adult will have significantly heavier penalties.
Take Action Now to Protect Your Child's Future
Nonlegal consequences of underage DUI may affect your child's future educational and career pursuits. If your child is convicted of DUI, the conviction will be on their record, and will be seen by anyone who conducts a background check for hiring or educational purposes. Furthermore, the insurance premiums for minors convicted of DUI are extremely high and difficult to reduce once the offense has been made.
The sooner you take measures to build a defense against the charges, the better your chances are for a positive outcome. With the way that the law is designed, one small lapse in judgment can have detrimental effects both immediately and in the long term.
Free Consultation With an Attorney
If you were charged with underage DUI or if you are the parent of a minor who was arrested for DUI, you should call a Phoenix DUI lawyer at Rosenstein Law Group in Scottsdale at 480-248-7666.