Many teens like to experiment with drugs and alcohol, but doing so can get them in serious trouble with the law. Arizona is strict when it comes to underage drinking and driving. According to A.R.S. § 4-244(34), a person under the age of 21 can be convicted of da DUI if they have any alcohol in their system. This means that a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.00% is grounds for criminal charges. If a person under age 21 has a BAC of more than 0.08%, they can face the same charges an adult of legal drinking age would face.
Arizona is also a zero-tolerance state, which means that those with a BAC of 0.05% can be arrested if they exhibit signs of impairment, even though their BAC is below the legal limit.
Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving
Underage drinking and driving is a misdemeanor, but don’t be fooled. The punishment is fairly strict considering it is not charged as a felony. A conviction can lead to six months in jail and a fine of $2,500. The driver’s license will also be suspended for a two-year period.
It is possible that you could face probation instead of jail time, especially for a first-time offense. While the license is under suspension, you can apply for a restricted license, which would allow you to drive only to work or school. Your vehicle will need to have an ignition interlock device installed. This device measures the amount of alcohol on your breath. If any trace of alcohol is detected, you will be unable to start your car.
Besides these penalties, insurance rates often triple. If an underage driver is on their parents’ insurance policy, the parents may see their rates go up as well. Therefore, the consequences of underage drinking and driving can affect the entire family.
But that’s not all. These penalties are enhanced even further if an underage person is caught driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a school zone.
What is a School Zone?
The law considers a school to be a public school or private school. It may be a high school or kindergarten program. A school zone covers 300 feet from any edge of the school’s boundaries. It also covers public property located within 1,000 feet of a bus, stop or school property.
No drugs or alcohol are allowed in a Drug Free School Zone. Penalties are increased for those who are caught and convicted. A person in possession of a drug on school grounds may face a Class 2 felony, which can mean up to 11 years in prison for a first-time offense.
The penalties are strict, and it’s not always possible to know if a person is in a school zone. Therefore, it’s best to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can advise you of your legal options. Call us today to set up a free legal consultation.