Underage Consumption

Underage Consumption

While many young people see parties as a rite of passage, police in Tempe and the surrounding areas take underage drinking seriously. It is a crime in Arizona to even consume alcohol if you are under the legal drinking age of 21. If convicted, you may have fines and even jail time, and you will have a criminal record to explain to potential employers and university admissions officers.

Tempe Underage Consumption Lawyer

If you are charged with underage consumption, you can fight the charges. In some cases you may qualify for a diversion program to avoid a criminal record. Tempe underage consumption lawyer James E. Novak can help you. James E. Novak represents many college students and teens that have been charged with underage drinking. James Novak, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney, is an experienced criminal and DUI trial lawyer, and former prosecutor. If retained he will protect your rights and defend your charges, to make sure you get the best resolution to your case. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC, today at (480) 413-1499 to schedule a free consultation.

James E. Novak represents clients in Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, Phoenix and surrounding cities.

Arizona Laws on Underage Consumption

Arizona Revised Statute 4-244(42) makes it illegal for any person under 21, the age at which a person can purchase alcohol, to have any "spirituous liquor" in their body, unless it is for a bona fide religious purpose, like communal wine, or a medical purpose.

The state's illegal consumption law means that if an underage person so much as knowingly takes a sip of an alcoholic beverage, unless it falls under an exception, that person has broken the law and may face penalties.

Unlike with a DUI, police are unlikely to perform a breath, blood or urine test before citing the suspect. They will often cite an underage person carrying an alcoholic drink, or any underage person who is on premises with alcoholic beverages.

College parties are a prime target for underage consumption offenses. For example, let's say you are 20 years old and attending a party near the Arizona State University campus. Police are called due to noise complaints, and demand the IDs of everyone present. When they see your driver's license, they may issue you a citation for Underage Consumption — possibly if you weren't even holding an alcoholic drink in your hand.

However, underage consumption is still a criminal offense, meaning prosecutors must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Punishment for Underage Drinking in Tempe

Generally, people younger than 21 that police suspect have consumed alcohol will be issued a citation. Underage consumption is a Class Two misdemeanor, carrying fines up to $750 and possible jail time of up to four months. While jail time is unlikely, you will have a criminal conviction on your record that will be visible, and may adversely impact future employment opportunities, college, graduate school or law school admissions, residency, and even athletic programs.

For many underage consumption cases, the court will offer a diversion program. Under the diversion program, you will attend classes on alcohol abuse and pay certain court fees. After the diversion program, you will not have a criminal conviction for the offense on your record.

Arizona officials take underage drinking very seriously, but offer this program to give young people a chance to keep a clean record. If you wish to go through this program, a Tempe misdemeanor lawyer can speak with prosecutors to help you be able to attend the classes.

Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC | ASU Underage Drinking Attorney

If you face charges of underage consumption in Tempe, you have options for defense. Tempe underage consumption lawyer James E. Novak can help you find your best option, whether it be fighting the charges or seeking a diversion program. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC, today at (480) 413-1499 to set up your free consultation.

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