Minors Consuming Or Possessing Alcohol In Arizona


Arizona faces staggeringly high rates of youth drinking, and as a result, strict laws and penalties have been imposed to dissuade underage drinking. Young drivers are already more prone to accidents due to their lack of experience behind the wheel, making underage DUIs especially dangerous.

It might seem complicated, particularly since the penalties are so severe, but it’s relatively straightforward. People under the age of 21 are legally forbidden from purchasing or consuming alcohol, and others are forbidden from providing alcohol to underage individuals. There are some exceptions, however, and penalties vary based upon the alcohol-related crime.

Exceptions To The Rules

There are some circumstances where minors in proximity to alcohol, or even consuming it, is not illegal. For example, a person under the age of 21 is allowed to enter a bar or an establishment that retails alcohol with a spouse, legal guardian, or parent who is 21 years of age or older. This does not include friends – the individual accompanying the person has to be legally recognized as responsible for the individual. As long as the person under the age of 21 is not consuming alcohol, no crime has been committed.

It is illegal in the majority of circumstances for a minor to consume alcohol in a public place, with two exceptions. One exception is that the alcohol is consumed for medical purposes. Many liquid or intravenous medicines contain a small percentage of alcohol. Cough syrup, for example, often contains alcohol as a natural preservative. It’s legal for someone under the age of 21 to consume these medicines to treat an ailment.

It is also legal for a minor to consume alcohol for religious purposes. Many Catholic churches provide bread and wine as a part of a religious ceremony to signify the body and blood of Christ. Minors are allowed to consume a reasonable amount of sacramental wine in church as long as it does not affect the health and safety of the public – meaning that a minor allowed to consume enough sacramental wine to become drunk or belligerent may be deemed a safety risk.

Laws Against Minors Obtaining Alcohol

Since individuals under the age of 21 cannot legally purchase or obtain alcohol, they often coerce others to provide that alcohol (bootleg) or forge documents (such as IDs or licenses) to falsely state they are of the legal drinking age.

Anyone under the age of 21 who purchases alcohol with a fake ID can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor – one step below a felony. The penalty is up to six months of incarceration, revocation of driving privileges for up to ywo years, and fines of up to $2,500. Identical penalties attach for underage individuals who use fake IDs to gain entry into bars, clubs, or similar establishments with age restricted entry.

If you are under 21 and you ask someone else to provide alcohol for you, whether it be through purchasing it for you, selling it to you, or simply giving it to you, you are also breaking the law. This is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of jail time, two years loss of driving privileges, and up to $2500 in fines.

Laws Against Selling Or Providing Alcohol To Minors

Suitably accompanied underage persons are allowed to enter businesses with liquor licenses. However, these establishments are not permitted to serve or provide alcohol to individuals under the age of 21 years. To do so is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 4 months in jail and fines of up to $750.

Individuals who are not employed by an establishment with a liquor license still cannot provide alcohol to minors. Furnishing alcohol to minors includes allowing minors to drink at your home, sharing alcohol with a classmate or a dormmate who is underage, buying alcohol for minors, or selling alcohol to minors. This is punishable by fines exceeding $2,500 and up to six months in jail.

Underage DUI Penalties

Underage DUI is a separate crime from underage drinking. Since Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving, any driver under the age of 21 who is found with ANY amount of alcohol in their system can be charged with underage DUI.

The penalties for first-offense underage DUI include up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, driver’s license revocation for up to two years, and a mandatory ignition interlock device. More often times than not, the court will also sentence individuals found guilty of underage DUI to attend mandatory classes that must be completed before driving privileges are reinstated.

Getting Help From An Experienced Attorney

If you are facing charges relating to the underage possession or use of alcohol, or providing alcohol to an underage individual, it’s important to take these charges seriously. Contact the Law Office of Doug Taylor in Tucson today for a free consultation. We can discuss your case and help you build a strong defense against these charges before they become a part of your criminal record.