Underage DUI

In Arizona, it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to have any level of alcohol in their system while driving. This means that anything over a 0.00% BAC can result in an immediate DUI.

DUI penalties are harsh in Arizona, and receiving a DUI at a young age can have significant impact on schoolwork, college applications, and scholarships, and may leave a mark on your permanent record.

It is important to contact an experienced attorney as quickly as possible after an underage DUI arrest. If you or your child has been charged with an underage DUI contact Cliff Hill to reevaluate evidence from law enforcement, and to build a strong defense for your case.

Facts About Underage DUIs in Arizona

Car crashes are the number one cause of death in teens in the United States, and a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinker as a driver. Though 1 in 6 teens binge drinks, only 1 in 100 parents believed their teenager binge drank. The 2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior survey by the Center for Disease Control reported that 9% of Arizona high schoolers reported driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, slightly less than the 10% national average.

But underage DUI statistics continue to grow in Arizona. In the last seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of underage DUI arrests has increased from 655 to 1,450.

The High School Risk Behavior survey also shows that Arizona teens use drugs in averages higher than national standards. 43% of Arizona teens have used marijuana versus the 40% national average, and 10% of Arizona teens have used cocaine versus the 5% national average. Drug usage of any kind can also result in a DUI charge for people under the age of 21.

Driving age limits across the United States are set at 21 allow young people enough time to develop the physical and mental skills to cope with alcohol. Research has shown that young people are more affected by alcohol, and get drunk twice as quickly as adults do. Teens are also less able than adults to accurately assess their alcohol levels, which results in poor decisions and over-drinking.


Arizona Underage Drinking and Driving Laws

If you are under 21, any blood alcohol content level over 0.00% can result in an immediate DUI. The driver does not need to show any signs of impairment to be charged. Arizona subscribes to “zero tolerance” laws that make any BAC level over zero illegal.

Some states allow for a 0.02% BAC limit for people under 21 to account for variables in BAC testing devices. This is not the case in Arizona. For drivers over 21 the legal BAC is 0.08%. People under the age of 21 can face additional penalties if their BAC levels are over 0.08%, which can result in "extreme" or "super extreme" charges.

It is unlawful for anyone to have illicit drugs in their system. If law enforcement suspects you to be under the influence of illicit drugs, or sees illicit drugs in a urine or blood test, you can be charged with an underage DUI for drug usage.


Penalties for underage DUIs in Arizona can be harsh. Arizona already has the strictest DUI laws in the country, and most judges are unyielding against underage drinkers.

Underage DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. Penalties can include between 24 hours and 180 days of incarceration, mandatory license suspension for up to two years, significant fines and fees, installation of an ignition interlock device, and mandatory alcohol or drug counseling.

In Arizona you have the opportunity to dispute your license suspension, but only have 15 days after the notice of suspension has been served by law enforcement to request a hearing. An experience DUI lawyer can help request the hearing and defend you getting your license reinstated.

Underage DUIs are one of the most common types of charges involving alcohol and people under 21. The other most common charges are minor in consumption, illegal purchase of liquor, and illegal possession of liquor. If you are the passenger of a car, are under 21, and have been drinking, you can also be charged by police for minor in possession or minor in consumption. These charges can result in incarceration, fines, and alcohol or drug abuse classes.

Even having an open or empty container in the car with people under 21 can result in misdemeanor charges.

What to do if you are stopped for a DUI

Police must find probable cause to charge you with a DUI. You have rights. Everything you say and do can and will be used against you. You do not need to agree to questioning or car searches. You also do not need to consent to field sobriety tests like the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, or an eye test.

You will be required to take a blood, urine, or breath test if one is requested by a police officer. Under implied consent laws, registering for a driver's license means you have already agreed to take this test if requested. You must take this test within two hours of driving for accurate results. 

Refusing to take a blood, urine, or breath test can result in suspension of your driver's license. You do not have a choice in which type of test you will take.

If you or your child has been charged with an underage DUI contact Cliff Hill today to learn about your options.

Law Office of Cliff L. Hill, PLLC

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