Much has been written and said recently about the epidemic of drug addiction in Arizona and throughout the United States. In the process, many lose sight of the fact that (a) alcohol is considered one of the most prevalent “gateway drugs”, that is, substances that lead to the use of more dangerous drugs, and (b) the underage use of alcohol is not only illegal in Arizona, it can lead to serious consequences for minors.

The statistic evidence concerning underage drinking in Arizona is alarming. It shows that over a quarter of all those between the ages of 12 and 20 admit to drinking within the past month, with over 18% admitting to binge drinking. In an effort to curb the practice of using adults to purchase alcohol for minors, law enforcement in the Phoenix area now employs “undercover teens” in an attempt to reduce this conduct.

Here are a couple of the basic laws in Arizona concerning underage drinking:

    • Minor in Possession (MIP). Under ARS 4-244(9), it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to “buy, receive, have in the person’s possession or consume” any alcoholic beverage.
    • “Baby DUI.” ARS 4-244(34) prohibits anyone who is under 21 years of age from operating a motor vehicle while there is “any” liquor in the person’s body. The penalty for a violation of this section includes a two-year license suspension. ARS 28-3322. Notwithstanding the nickname for this charge, it does not require a conviction for DUI, or that the minor has a particular blood alcohol content, or that he or she is impaired. The presence of alcohol in one’s system while driving is all that is necessary for a conviction.
    • The court may also suspend the driver’s license of a minor convicted of possession or use of alcohol for a period of six months in addition to any other penalty associated with the conduct. ARS 4-246D.

There are numerous other laws in the state related in one way or another to underage drinking, including use of false identification to obtain alcohol. There are also additional penalties, such as fines, surcharges, probation and even possible jail time.

If you or your child has been charged with DUI, Baby DUI, MIP or any other offense related to alcohol, contact a Phoenix lawyer who specializes in these matters. Call today for a free consultation.

Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 280-8028


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