In Arizona, the legal drinking age is 21. There are no exceptions under Arizona drinking law, and if you are under 21 and get caught with or around alcohol, you may face some harsh penalties. While adults require a BAC of 0.08% to be charged with a DUI, minors with a BAC of 0.01% can be charged with an MIC, even if they exhibit no signs of impairment.
Arizona underage drinking laws are very clear. Anyone found guilty of consuming alcohol while under the age of 21 can be charged with a Minor in Consumption or MIC. Underage drinking laws in Arizona are very strict. The severity of the punishment will vary depending largely on the situation at hand, as well as on the jurisdiction (court) that your case ends up in. There are many options when it comes to underage drinking. The simplest option is the most obvious: If you are under 21, don’t drink. If you do, don’t get caught. If you do get caught, here is what you need to know:
What are your options under Arizona drinking laws?
-Underage consumption is a misdemeanor in Arizona. Typically, courts will
go easy on first time offenders but may impose the following penalties:
alcohol education or addiction programs, one year probation, community
service, fines, and/or driver’s license suspension (if drinking
and driving). Not to mention, you may have to deal with a criminal record
for the rest of your life.
-In some cases, especially for first time offenders, there is the option for Deferred Prosecution. This means that no judgement is entered and you must meet with a Probation Officer for at least 6 months. So long as you do not commit any further crimes during that time, the charges will be dismissed, and you will not have a criminal record.
-There may also be the possible option for a Diversion Program, where you are required to admit to the crime and complete court ordered counseling and classes. Subsequently, your charges will be dropped.
-In extreme cases, where the offender is believed to be a danger to themselves or others, jail time may be imposed, leaving the offender with a criminal record.
Why is it important to consider your options?
-Criminal records can show up on background checks and affect potential opportunities with school or work. Many schools have zero-tolerance policies and may require suspension or expulsion from school, athletic teams, etc.
-If you are under the age of 18 and charged with an MIC or MIP, your case will likely be heard in Juvenile Court. If this is the case, it is likely that your school will find out about the charge, as Juvenile Courts often question schools about student behavior, status, etc.
What else should you be cautious of?
Open container/possession– If you are under 21 in Arizona, and present at a place where there is alcohol (at a party, in a vehicle, etc), even if you are not drinking, you can unfortunately still be charged with a Minor in Possession (MIP) for sitting closest to the open container.
-Fake ID-Using a Fake ID is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties can include alcohol/substance abuse treatment, fines, jail up to 4 months, and/or identity theft.
Know your rights!
-You absolutely do NOT have to submit to a breath test. The police are not allowed to take a breath test unless you consent to it. Flagstaff police carry body cameras. Make sure it is on and recording. If you are forced to take a breath test without submitting to it, that can be considered an illegal search.
If you or a loved one is charged with an MIC or MIP, don’t go it alone. Seek legal advice immediately!