The next few months will be a very busy period for Arizona teenagers. Spring break often means time out of school and partying with friends. April brings Prom dances and an increase in underage drinking. Graduation is also a time for parties and living it up. All of this leads to the increased risk of teenagers drinking or smoking marijuana and getting behind the wheel of a car. So what happens if your teen is arrested for a DUI? Read on to learn more.
Consequences of an Underage DUI in Arizona
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation. The Arizona police force and court system don’t take it any easier on teens who drink and drive than adults who are charged with the same crime. In fact, teen drivers are subject to even more scrutiny than those who drink and drive at the legal age of 21.
Arizona has what is known as a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers. While a driver aged 21 or older may be arrested for a DUI if he or she shows significant impairment or has a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08 or higher, a teenager may be arrested for a DUI if he or she has a BAC of any higher than 0.0. So, what happens if a teenager is arrested for a DUI? What consequences does he or she face? Here’s a look at six of the most common penalties for drinking and driving underage:
- Juvenile Detention or Imprisonment – Underage drivers who are still under the age of 18 may be faced with as many as six months in a juvenile detention center. Those who are legally considered to be adults but still under the legal drinking age may also face imprisonment in a county jail. These individuals will also receive a misdemeanor charge on their adult records.
- Fines – Even underage drivers can be charged with significant fines if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Parents of minors charged with a DUI may be responsible for the $2500 in fines, as well as any court fees or attorney fees.
- Driving Suspension or Restrictions – The driver’s licenses of underage drinkers will often be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time after being charged with a DUI. Judges are very strict with this policy because they want underage drinkers to learn about the severe penalties associated with drinking and driving. Even when driving privileges are reinstated, your teen may be required to install an ignition interlock device which will ensure that he or she is unable to operate the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
- Treatment Programs – In some cases, an Arizona judge may see fit to assign the arrested and convicted teen to rehabilitation or treatment programs for drug and/or alcohol abuse. This may mean that a teen is required to attend a certain number of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or it could mean that your teen will need to live in an in-patient treatment center for a specific number of days or months.
- Community Service – Many Arizona judges will assign underage drinkers who have been convicted of a DUI to community service hours. These hours must be completed in a certain window of time in order to avoid further fines or repercussions.
What to Do If Your Teen is Arrested for a DUI
Because the penalties for an underage DUI are so hefty in Arizona, it’s important that you act quickly after your child is arrested.