Arizona law operates under a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking. As reported by The Arizona Republic, a law enforcement official may arrest and charge a minor with driving under the influence even when a breathalyzer test shows his or her blood alcohol content is significantly less than the legal limit of 0.08%.
An arresting official, however, must have probable cause to believe that a minor is under the influence of alcohol, but not necessarily impaired, while operating a vehicle. Appropriate signals may include swerving on the road, smelling of alcohol and having watery eyes or slurred speech.
Unlike situations involving adults over the age of 21, a prosecutor does not need to prove the level of impairment of a motorist at the time of his or her arrest. A minor charged with DUI may then face a conviction of a misdemeanor in the second class. Penalties may include a two-year driver’s license suspension, a $750 fine and incarceration of up to six months.
Receiving a ticket for possession or consumption
Individuals less than 21 years old may receive a ticket for possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages without a law enforcement official requesting a breath test. A ticket issued to a minor in possession or consumption of alcohol is a misdemeanor offense in the first class.
A minor who is not driving may receive a ticket when an officer has reason to believe that he or she consumed alcohol. Minors holding a bag of alcohol or having bottles or cans in view may receive a ticket for possession. Penalties may include a fine, court fees and incarceration. As reported by Wrangler News, a plea deal may permit an offender to complete a diversionary program to treat alcohol or substance abuse issues instead of incurring a criminal conviction.