St. Patrick’s Day has become much more than a religious feast day to honor St. Patrick. Green apparel, drinks, and decorations are in abundance, especially in alcohol establishments; making it a festival of alcohol consumption that rivals many other holidays throughout the year. It’s no surprise that with so many parties on March 17th arrests for alcohol-related offenses are also in high numbers. Here’s what you need to know about Arizona laws for alcohol if you plan to join in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities this year.
Arizona’s Strict Alcohol Laws
When it comes to alcohol, Arizona has stringent laws that have a powerful impact on your life, well after the party has ended. Not only is it illegal to drive under the influence, you can be charged with many other alcohol-related offenses in our state. Minors under the age of 21 can face serious charges just for holding a beer. It’s important to know the law and what you can be arrested for in Arizona if you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Every state has laws against drinking and driving. In Arizona, anyone driving or in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated can be charged with a DUI. Minors under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if any alcohol has been consumed and they drive or are in possession of their vehicle. Those 21 or older can be charged if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% and they’re inside their car with their keys, even if they do not drive. You can be charged with a DUI if your BAC is between .05 and .079%, with cause. A BAC of .15% or higher is considered an extreme DUI and has higher penalties. Some of the penalties you can face with a DUI in Arizona include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail time
- Fines and penalties
- Alcohol treatment
- Interlock device
Minors driving with any amount of alcohol in their system face an automatic license suspension and DUI penalties.
MIP and MIC
Minors attending St. Patrick’s Day celebrations need to be aware that just being at a party where alcohol is consumed can be detrimental. Any consumption of alcohol, except for religious ceremonies, is against the law before you turn 21. You can be charged with either minor in possession (MIP) or minor in consumption (MIC), and those that furnished you with the alcohol can be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. Either offense can lead to jail time, probation, fines if the minor is convicted, and a misdemeanor charge for adults furnishing alcohol to a minor.
If you have an open container of alcohol inside the passenger area of your vehicle, you can be charged with an open container violation. It doesn’t matter whether you have been drinking or not, it’s against the law to have access to an open container of alcohol inside a vehicle. An open container can lead to a class 2 misdemeanor, with penalties and fines.
Public Consumption of Alcohol
While there is not a “drunk in public” offense in Arizona, public consumption of alcohol is illegal. This includes drinking in most public places, even if you are not intoxicated. A conviction of public consumption of alcohol can result in a class 2 misdemeanor, fines, jail time and probation.
While disorderly conduct is not an alcohol offense, it often is given to those who have been consuming alcohol. Being intoxicated in public after leaving a bar is not illegal. However, being disorderly in public can get you arrested. This charge covers a wide variety of behaviors that are often displayed at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations or after the party is over, including:
- Loud, disruptive behavior
- Discharging a gun in a reckless manner
- Not dispersing when ordered by law enforcement
- Antagonizing or provoking a fight through offensive language or gestures
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor and can lead to fines up to $2,500, as well as jail time. If a deadly weapon is involved, it can be a felony charge with very serious repercussions. Both can impact your permanent record, making it more difficult to pass background checks for employment and other opportunities.
Legal Help in Arizona for Alcohol-Related Offenses
If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense in Arizona on St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day, you need a legal team to help you fight your case. Our team at Matthew Lopez Law includes experienced legal experts on the alcohol laws in Arizona, with an outstanding reputation for getting the best results for our clients. We can create a solid defense for your case and help minimize the damage a night of celebration may have on your life. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your case.