There is a provision in our Arizona law that punishes minors for having alcohol in their system while driving a car. It is often referred to as a "baby DUI" by state prosecutors, DUI defense attorneys, and local Judges. However, there is nothing "baby" about the punishments that come with an underage DUI charge.
Pursuant to Arizona law, if you are under the age of 21 and have any amount of alcohol in your system while driving (or in actual physical control of) a car, you are guilty of a "baby DUI." Even a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.001 equals guilty under this law.
Further, an underage person could be simultaneously charged with a "baby DUI" and the more well-known, "impaired to the slightest degree", and/or "BAC above a .08" charge(s) as well. In fact, if a person under the age of 21 has a BAC above a .08, they will almost certainly be charged with all three charges.
How does the punishment differ between a "baby DUI" and a regular DUI? Traditional DUI convictions in Arizona come with jail time, the imposition of fines and fees, mandatory alcohol classes, and the requirement of having an ignition interlock device on one's vehicle. In contrast, a "baby DUI" does not carry mandatory jail time or the ignition interlock requirements. Plus the fines are significantly less, but expect the mandatory alcohol classes to be excessive.
Further, it has one significant and serious downside: a conviction of a "baby DUI" carries an automatic 2 year suspension of the underage offender's driver's license. That means TWO years of NO driving!!!
The only good news is that the judge has at his or her sole discretion the ability to order a restricted license be issued (instead of having the two year suspension imposed). As a result, make sure that your DUI defense attorney knows the judge and has a good feeling on what is likely to result. There is a very big difference between a two-year driver's license suspension and a twenty-month restricted driver's license.