Posted on February 23, 2017 in Drunk Driving
Driving under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol is incredibly dangerous, and DUI laws exist to deter drivers from operating their vehicles while intoxicated. Many motorists still choose to drive under the influence, and a disproportionate number of DUI-related fatalities are caused by drivers younger than 21. The standards for legal alcohol consumption are much stricter for drivers who are younger than 21, and the penalties for DUI charges typically are more severe, as well.
Arizona has some of the strictest laws in the country for underage DUI. Arizona follows a zero-tolerance policy, meaning if a chemical test finds any amount of alcohol in the system of a driver younger than 21 years old, he can be cited for DUI. The legal limit of .08% blood-alcohol content does not apply to drivers under 21.
In most DUI cases, a charged suspect is usually released from police detainment within 24 hours. Once the charges have been filed and the driver is given further instructions, the driver is sent home with a court date. If a DUI arrest involved any criminal activity, property damage, or injury to others, the suspect will likely be detained for much longer and face more severe penalties, including any applicable criminal charges.
In Arizona, first-time underage DUI offenses will lead to at least 24 hours of jail time, but this can be extended to up to ten days in some situations. A first-time DUI offender will be fined $1,600 and have his driver’s license suspended for 90 days or up to one year. A second DUI conviction within seven years of the first will incur more severe penalties. The second-time offender will serve a minimum of 30 days and up to a maximum of 90 days in jail. He also will face fines up to $2,500 and a driver’s license suspension for one year.
Since underage drinking is a crime, a convicted DUI offender under 21 may face several more charges depending on the situation. Some examples include:
These charges can lead to even more severe penalties, including additional fines, more jail time, community service, and a longer license suspension. Most Arizona judges will require the convicted driver to attend drug- and alcohol-education courses.
It’s also important to note that a DUI charge affects automobile insurance. Some insurance companies will immediately terminate an insurance policy following an underage DUI charge. Other companies will refuse to renew an insurance policy after such a charge, and some may simply raise the monthly premium on the policy by a substantial amount. Car insurance for younger drivers is typically costly even without DUI charges, so a conviction can make car insurance extremely expensive.
Every case is different, and a judge will carefully consider all the variables involved and issue a fitting punishment. The extremely dangerous nature of DUI, especially DUI by drivers under the age of 21, means that charged offenders should not expect leniency in any situation. A judge may issue community service or harsher fines in lieu of jail time, but they typically make every effort to discourage repeat offenses.
Fighting a DUI charge rarely works out well for the offender, because DUI laws are not as open to interpretation as some other laws. It’s still smart to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with underage DUI in Arizona.