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ARS §4-244(34) – Underage DUI/DWI in Arizona

In the state of Arizona, every DUI is serious. But when it comes to drinking and driving among underage drivers, Arizona’s public policy of discouraging the activity dictates harsher consequences. Arizona’s laws for Underage drinking DUI/DWI is addressed in A.R.S. §4-244(34), which makes it unlawful 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.” The penalty and consequences for an Underage DUI in Arizona are understandably harsh. If you are cited for a DUI under the age of 21 (also known as a Baby DUI), you will find that Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy regardless of the level of intoxication.

Watch as David Michael Cantor explains  the consequences for Underage DUI/DWI in Arizona:

A close reading of A.R.S. §4-244(34) leads to the conclusion that the driver need not even be impaired or under the influence of alcohol to be charged with an underage DUI/DWI in Arizona. This zero-tolerance policy may lead to some harsh results, particularly when drivers are charged under this section of the law and also charged with an extreme or regular DUI at the time of the underage drinking and driving charge.

Underage DUI charges in Arizona is very serious and it can impact your future in many ways. Thus, it is imperative that you consult an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as you can. If you or a loved one is facing an Underage DUI charge, please call 602-307-0808 at any time or click here to contact our firm via a secure, confidential form to schedule a Free Consultation.

Penalty for Underage DUI/DWI in Arizona

One of the first things our lawyers get asked is ‘will I get jail time for an underage DUI?’ Every case is different but typically, for first-offense underage DUI charges, you will likely receive only probation, as jail time is not mandatory for underage drinking and driving. This does not mean that serving time is impossible, however; the judge has discretion to sentence you to up to six months in jail. Additionally, the judge may issue an order compelling the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue you a restricted license. This license only permits you to drive to and from work, school, and court-ordered alcohol classes for a period of two (2) years, plus you will need an ignition interlock device ($2,400 total over two years).

In Arizona, Minor DUI penalties are also expensive. In addition to the cost of public transportation you’ll need during your mandatory two-year license suspension, you may be charged a fine of up to $2,500 plus an 84 percent surcharge. Finally, your insurance company may choose to only insure you as a driver at a very expensive rate. Alternatively, the company may refuse to insure you at all.

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Defenses for Underage DUI in Arizona

One of the primary advantages to having an attorney is that he will have insight into the possible defenses that can assist you in reducing or eliminating charges and penalties. Some potential defenses include:

Lack of Probable Cause: In order to properly convict you, an officer must have had a proper reason to suspect that you consumed alcohol. If no probable cause existed — for example, if the field sobriety test was inappropriately administered — then your arrest will be considered invalid. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), officers should not give field sobriety tests if:

  • The suspect is wearing shoes with heels of two inches or more
  • The suspect has any hip, back, knee, or ankle injury
  • The suspect is 50 pounds or more overweight
  • The suspect has a balance-affecting disability

Additionally, no matter what the officer says, you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test! If the only reason for your arrest is this refusal, your arrest will be invalidated. Also, if an eye test was administered by an officer not yet certified to give that test, the results will be invalidated.

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion to Stop: In addition to needing a proper reason to suspect you consumed alcohol, an officer must have had a reasonable suspicion to stop and detain you in the first place. This suspicion may not be based on a pretext or discriminatory animus such as race, sex, age, religion, or sexual preference.

Lack of Actual Physical Control: In Arizona, a conviction for underage DUI, regular DUI or DWI requires the driver to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. Thus, if you have pulled over to sleep off the alcohol, even if the engine is still running, you cannot be convicted on those charges. Of course, this action does not exempt you from other underage drinking charges that may apply.

Other Legal Defenses to an Underage DUI include:

  • Denial of Right to Counsel: Upon requesting an attorney, police must promptly give you a phone to call a lawyer; waiting too long or refusing to do so can result in dismissal of charges.
  • Miranda Rights Violation: If you were not read your rights or were forced or tricked into making a confession or similar statement, those statements can be suppressed, and so can any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.
  • Inaccurate Blood or Breath-Testing Device: Arizona’s Department of Health Services requires certain standards for maintenance of breath testing equipment. Every 90 days, devices must go through a seven-test procedure, and calibration is required every 31 days. Evidence gathered from inaccurate devices can be suppressed.
  • Inaccurate or Incorrect Police Reports: Sloppy, inaccurate or misleading police reports can provide a defense for you. Factors such as inaccurate crime scene depiction, misstatements, false statements, and flawed photo line-ups can contribute to inaccuracies.

To take advantage of all possible defenses, it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney with ample resources. The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor have the highest possible Martindale Hubbell® rating, and Mr. Cantor is an Arizona DUI Attorney, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, as recognized by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization.

If you or your child has received an Underage DUI citation, call our office anytime at 602-307-0808 or fill out a secure online form to schedule a free case review. It will take about 30 minutes and a lawyer will give you their professional thought on your particular DUI case.

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