Minor DUI - Baby DUI - Await Underage Holiday Drinkers in AZ

by Aaron M. Black • December 26, 2022

Underage Drinkers With Party HangoverUnderage drinkers ringing in the 2023 New Year will be arrested if caught in one of the roving police patrols or stationary checkpoints authorities employ to discourage drinking and driving.

Think that is unlikely?

According to the Centers for Disease Control one in 10 high school students drink and drive. In greater Phoenix, Arizona, as many as 11 percent of teens drink and drive, which is called a “Baby DUI” because they are minors. But there is nothing childish about being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony DUI.

Moreover, a minor between ages 14 and 17 is charged with a DUI for having any amount of alcohol and is facing a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious in the misdemeanor class. So prosecutors do not need to prove the level of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) in the minor defendant’s blood.

Two exceptions allowing minors to have alcohol are in Arizona’s law: Religious ceremonies and medicinal reasons, under Arizona Revised Statute §4-244(34) as long as the consumption does not put the public’s health in danger.


Arizona’s DUI policies

Car Keys In Ignition - Actual Physical Control RuleArizona has a “zero tolerance” policy and some of the most strident DUI laws in the nation, including its “slightly impaired” feature. That allows a person to be arrested and charged with a DUI even though the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than the state’s baseline of 0.08 percent.

Not only that but the teen or any driver does not have to be driving to earn a DUI charge. All that is necessary is to be in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. This law means that if the underage driver who is impaired is parked somewhere and remains inside or near the vehicle to “sleep it off” and has ready access to the ignition key, the driver is arrested.

Ramifications of a DUI conviction for minors

A conviction for an underage DUI, although not as harsh as adult penalties, are still serious. The teen’s license to drive is suspended for as long as two years. During that time, however, the defense can petition for a restricted license. If approved, this allows the minor offender to drive to school, medical and behavioral health appointments, and meetings with a probation officer.

The conviction will also increase the minor’s automobile insurance premiums for three to five years if the insurance company does not cancel the teen’s policy.

The minor will also have a criminal offense on the public record for employers or anyone to see, which could make it more difficult to get a job after school.

Should the minor have a second drinking and driving conviction, the punishments will be more serious.

The courts, in determining the punishment for an underage defendant, will consider many factors, including the youth’s age, the level of the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), any points against the license, prior DUI or alcohol possession, and if a crash occurred any injuries or if a fatality happened.

DUI Felony Accident

Minors charged as adults

Juveniles between 14 and 17 years old may be tried as adults if prosecutors file an aggravated allegation to the DUI charge for causing serious injury or death. In such cases, the charge is elevated to a far more serious felony, which will have life-long consequences if convicted.

Phoenix and Scottsdale prosecutors commonly wait to file a DUI charge until a minor aged 17 turns 18 so the offender can be charged as an adult.


Raising a Baby DUI to a felony

A minor can be charged with a felony DUI if the offending driver had a passenger younger than 15 in the vehicle at the time of the offense, was driving with a suspended license, or had two previous DUI convictions within seven years.

A felony conviction means mandatory jail time, significant fines and surcharges, the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm, and the right to vote in elections. Colleges and universities can reject an enrollment application. Employers can refuse employment, and landlords may not offer a rental agreement.

Minor and baby DUI defenses

The defense attorney has several avenues to pursue depending upon the fact pattern of the case.
  • The arresting officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the minor.
  • The field sobriety test was not performed correctly.
  • The breathalyzer test result was inaccurate because the device was out of calibration.
  • The blood test is invalid because the sample was tainted
  • The arresting officer failed to recite the Miranda rights advising you that you have the right to not answer any of the officer’s questions and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
It may also be possible to enter into a plea agreement to a lesser charge and a more lenient punishment.

5th Amendment - The Right to Remain Silent

Aaron M. Black Law for DUI defense

If a minor has been charged or is under investigation for a DUI, it is imperative that parents have an experienced DUI defense attorney such as myself to defend the teen at the earliest possible time. In my extensive career as an aggressive DUI defense attorney, I know those good teenagers can find themselves in legal trouble, which is why I work to build the best defense possible. My goal is always to win a dismissal of the charge.

To do that, I will scrutinize the state’s evidence and the personnel records of the investigators involved looking for inconsistencies, omissions and errors. I also will work to develop information and evidence that is favorable to the minor.

At Aaron M. Black Law, defendants will receive personalized legal services and encouragement and will always be talking directly to me at every step of their case.

Begin your DUI defense immediately by calling 480-729-1683 at any time, on any day, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court on at trial. Or use the online contact form on my website.

I defend DUI cases in Phoenix and Scottsdale, and throughout Arizona, including Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.


About the Author

Aaron Black Phoenix DUI LawyerAaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal defense matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes, and white-collar crime cases.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI Attorney and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.
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