Interviewer: We have several different factors pertaining to DUIs; the first one is driving with alcohol in your body while under age 21. Do you work with a lot of clients that are under the 21?
Brian Sloan: I have quite a few under-21 clients, being close to Tempe, a college town. Many people experiment with alcohol, while living the college life. There are some who, under the age of 21, dabble in medications, drugs, or alcohol. These people then get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive; some may be charged as an adult.
They aren’t adults. They are over the age of 18, however under Arizona law, an adult DUI is for someone who’s 21 years of age or older. They may be charged with what we as defense attorneys call a “baby DUI,” which is when someone under the age of 21 is driving with alcohol, drugs, or medications in their system that they should not have taken.
How Underage DUI Differs From Regular DUI
When someone under the age of 21 has alcohol in their system while driving, it is a strict liability offense. The person is not allowed to have any alcohol in their system. It’s not the normal legal limit that we’re familiar with, above a .08. It’s simply there can’t be any alcohol in your system.
With normal DUI charges, there are minimum requirements under Arizona law. This includes at least $1400 in fines and fees, a 90-day license suspension upon conviction, required alcohol counseling, and anywhere from one day to six months in jail.
However, underage DUI is under a separate area of the law. It is not under the vehicular law. It’s under the alcoholic beverages laws, which is called Title 4. The biggest downfall for being under the age of 21 while having alcohol in the body and driving is you lose your license for two years. It is in the judge’s discretion as to whether the person is allowed to drive to and from work and school after 90 days.
Interviewer: Could they face jail time, if under 21?
Brian Sloan: Technically, they can. For many people, their license is so important to them that they would prefer to handle a charge of driving under the age of 21 with alcohol in the body as a DUI, as if they are someone who is above the age of 21. Sometimes as a defense attorney we can negotiate that option. Although it does come with required jail time, fines and fees, and counseling, many would prefer to lose their license only for 90 days rather than two years.