Alcohol Offenses For Those Under 21
Over the past few years Tucson area law enforcement agencies have steadily been placing more emphasis on enforcing under age drinking statutes. An increasing number of University of Arizona students under twenty-one are finding themselves targets of these increased efforts. The two crimes police most commonly cite are "Minor In Possession," and "Minor In Possession While Driving."
Minor In Possession - Under 21 with Alcohol in Body - A.R.S. § 4-244(40)
It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to have in the person's body any spirituous liquor. In a prosecution for a violation of this paragraph:(a) Pursuant to section 4-249, it is a defense that the spirituous liquor was consumed in connection with the bona fide practice of a religious belief or as an integral part of a religious exercise and in a manner not dangerous to public health or safety.(b) Pursuant to section 4-226, it is a defense that the spirituous liquor was consumed for a bona fide medicinal purpose and in a manner not dangerous to public health or safety.
Minor/Under 21 Driving with Alcohol in Body - A.R.S. § 4-244(33)
It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in the person's body.
About "Baby DUI"
The more serious of the two offenses is A.R.S. § 4-244(33). While prosecutors and police commonly refer to this crime as "Baby DUI," the crime differs from DUI both in terms of elements and punishment.
Regarding the "elements" of the crime, A.R.S. § 4-244(33) has no impairment or threshold limit requirements. Prosecutors only have to prove any amount of alcohol in the body.
The most significant difference, however, in most people's minds, is not the elements of the crime, but the punishment. In some respects, the punishment is harsher than the mandated punishments for a standard misdemeanor DUI. This is because A.R.S. § 4-244(33) mandates MVD suspend the defendant's driver's license for two years if she is found guilty. (see A.R.S. § 28-3322)
Many accused of "Baby DUI" feel the two year license suspension is far worse then the mandatory 24 hours in jail and 90 day license suspension required for a regular DUI. Considering the particularly harsh penalties, those charged with this crime should seriously consider hiring counsel to protect their legal rights. There are legal defenses to this charge. Additionally, experienced counsel may be more adapt in negotiating less severe penalties.