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Under 21 and Thinking of Drinking in Arizona? Don’t Get Behind the Wheel

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By Attorney David Michael Cantor, The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, Arizona  

California ranks as the highest state of origin for out-of-state travelers to Arizona, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. With 7.1 million Californians enjoying the sites that Arizona has to offer, including Lake Havasu (one of the most popular Spring Break destinations in the West), chances are a large number of those travelers will be under the age of 21.

Arizona has a lot to offer families, as well as the Spring Break set. However, if you are under the age of 21 and find yourself behind the wheel of an automobile—or of a watercraft—and have been drinking, harsh penalties await you if you are caught.

What makes the state of Arizona a little different when it comes to underage drinking is that it is totally irrelevant whether the person is actually impaired by alcohol. If you are under 21, have had the slightest amount of alcohol and get behind the wheel, you are breaking the law. Most times, however, underage drinking and driving is charged in conjunction with a DUI or Extreme DUI.

The definition of an underage DUI—also known as Baby DUI—is any person under the age of 21 years who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in that person’s body.

In Arizona, the penalties for underage drinking and driving are harsh and can haunt you for a long time:

  •  0 days-6 months jail time
  •  Fines up to $2,500 plus an 84% surcharge
  •  Mandatory license suspension for two years
  • DMV may issue a restricted driving permit (allowed to drive only to and from work, school and any court-ordered alcohol classes during that two year period)
  • Insurance companies may refuse to insure a young person who is on a restricted driving permit
  • Mandatory ignition interlock
  • High insurance premiums

In addition to these legal penalties, underage drinking and driving kills. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the risk for a motor vehicle crash increases at ANY level of blood alcohol concentration for teens. Furthermore, in a recent survey, 23% of drivers aged 15-20 involved in fatal crashes were drinking.

David Michael Cantor is a DUI Attorney in Mesa Arizona at The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor. He is a Certified Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®.

Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli / CC BY

Bradley Corbett

Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.

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