In Arizona, if a person who is under 21 years of age is caught driving a motor vehicle with any level of alcohol in their body, they can be charged with underage DUI.

The language of the law is:

It is unlawful for a person under twenty-one years of age to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in the person’s body.

A.R.S. 4-244(34)

How does an underage DUI compare to a regular DUI?

There are 4 big differences between an underage DUI and a regular DUI.

Required Blood Alcohol Level and Impairment.

For a regular DUI, the driver must either have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of at least .08, OR if the BAC is less than .08, the prosecution must prove that the driver was impaired while driving. For an underage DUI, there is no minimum BAC level required. ANY level is sufficient for the prosecution to make its case. Moreover, the prosecution does not have to prove any impairment. This is a severe law. If a person who is under 21 years of age is caught driving a car with any level of alcohol in their body, they can be charged under this law.

License Suspension.

In a regular DUI, the driver is facing a 90 day license suspension. In an underage or baby DUI, the driver may get a 90 license suspension on the front end as a result of the implied consent affidavit, and then if convicted, will receive a mandatory 2-year license suspension from the MVD. A judge may order that the underage driver be allowed to travel to and from school and work with the installation of an ignition interlock device during the 2-year suspension.

Jail Time.

Any DUI that is not an underage DUI is going to carry mandatory jail time. For a DUI .08 and above, the minimum mandatory jail time is 10 days. An underage DUI has no mandatory jail time. This is the one upside of this charge compared to other DUI charges.

Ignition Interlock Duration.

A standard DUI, for example, will come with a 1-year ignition interlock requirement, and it may be possible to reduce that to as little as 6 months. An underage DUI is going to come with a 2-year ignition interlock requirement. Also, any use of an interlock during the 2-year suspension period won’t count towards the 2-year ignition interlock period. So it is possible that a driver convicted of an underage DUI could have an ignition interlock for nearly 4 years.

Potential Consequences of an Underage DUI

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor Conviction
  • No mandatory jail time, but a class 1 misdemeanor carries the potential for up to 6 months of jail.
  • Up to 3 years probation.
  • Fines up to $2,500 plus court fees and surcharges, which could bring the total fines close to $5,000.
  • 2-year mandatory license suspension (judge can order the MVD to issue a restricted license allowing the driver to travel to and from school and work, but this will require the installation of an ignition interlock device)
  • If the driver is under 18 years of age, the drivers license will be revoked for 2 years.
  • May be ordered to perform community service (restitution)
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for 24 months
  • Alcohol or drug screening

Opportunities to Improve the Outcome

Legal Issues

Was there probably cause for the traffic stop? Was the defendant actually driving? Was the BAC measured correctly? In every case, we want to review all of the facts and circumstances to make sure any problems with the prosecution’s case are uncovered.


Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to negotiate a plea to a different charge like reckless driving. While still a criminal charge, a reckless driving charge would avoid the huge fines and mandatory license suspensions associated with an underage DUI.


In some courts, it may be possible to enter into a diversion program. A diversion program usually involves completing a series of classes and staying out of trouble for a period of time. Upon completion of diversion, the charge would be dismissed.


Can a driver be charged with both an underage DUI and a regular DUI?

Yes. We see this often. Usually when a driver is issued a ticket for any alcohol related charge, the citing officer will include as many charges as possible. The officer will start with the most serious charge he thinks will stick, and add every other DUI charge below that. For example, if a 20 year old driver tests for a .20 BAC, the officer will cite the driver with super extreme DUI, extreme DUI, DUI .08 and above, DUI impaired in the slightest, Underage DUI and Minor in Consumption.

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