Posted in Criminal Defense on December 26, 2018
Just like the rest of the United States, the acceptable drinking age in Arizona is 21, however, not all states take underage drinking laws as seriously as this state. Both the police and the court system treats underage drinking as punishable crimes.
Arizona is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to minors possessing alcohol. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess any type of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol is also illegal for anyone under the age of 21. Arizona state law also prohibits internal possession, or the possession of alcohol within the body after consumption, as of 2002.
Purchasing Alcohol and Alcohol-Related Employment
Arizona also upholds several laws that refer to minors’ ability to purchase alcohol and work in alcohol-related workplaces. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase alcohol, and all licensed liquor sellers must use due care in checking the identification of anyone attempting to purchase alcohol. Buying alcohol for a minor, or “furnishing,” is also illegal.
Despite the age restriction for purchasing alcohol in Arizona, state law enforcement agencies sometimes hire minors who are 16 to 19 years of age to participate in the Covert Underage Buyers (CUB) program. The CUB program helps law enforcement identify liquor sellers that allow minors to purchase alcohol or that do not adhere to proper identification verification standards. Local law enforcement agencies operate the CUB program and train licensed participants.
The Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergency (TRACE) program also exists to help identify liquor sellers that furnish alcohol to minors. Under the TRACE system, law enforcement works closely with EMS responders to quickly trace the sale of alcohol that led to serious accidents resulting from underage drinking, such as when a minor under the influence causes a traffic accident. Suppliers of alcohol to minors can face criminal charges for contributing to such accidents.
Arizona upholds several laws concerning work in alcohol-related industries. For example, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to deliver alcohol, place an order for alcohol, or accept a delivery for alcohol. However, minors at least 16 years old with parental supervision can help a parent check out at a liquor store register, package a purchase, and load a purchase into the parent’s vehicle. The minimum age to work in any workplace that sells, manufactures, or disposes of alcohol is 18. The minimum age for stocking and handling on-sale liquor products is also 18.
Underage Drinking and Driving Penalties in Arizona
Drinking and driving is dangerous for anyone, but minors are generally less experienced drivers and less accustomed to handling alcohol, so underage drinking and driving is very dangerous. As such, Arizona follows a Not a Drop law, meaning that the typical legal limit of .08% BAC does not apply to minors; any detectable amount of alcohol can lead to an underage DUI conviction.
An underage DUI conviction in Arizona, commonly called a “baby DUI,” is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The possible punishments for a conviction of an underage DUI include up to six months of jail time and fines up to $750. However, no minimum penalties of jail time and fines exist for underage DUIs. It is possible that a minor may avoid jail time, but the state does mandate a two-year driver’s license suspension for an underage DUI conviction.
Underage drinking and driving can lead to multiple legal penalties depending on individual circumstances, such as:
- Identity theft (for posing as an older person to purchase alcohol)
- Soliciting alcohol
- Traffic violations
- Attempting to hide one’s identity during a legal traffic stop
Ultimately, it is never worth the risk for anyone under 21 in Arizona to purchase or consume alcohol or drive under the influence.