Arizona alcohol laws may surprise many people. Alcohol laws differ in different states. It’s easy for new residents to think they know Arizona laws. The same for visitors. But a mistake can be costly. Not knowing the law is not a legal excuse for breaking it.
- Minimum Age Laws
- More Alcohol Laws
- Resources on Alcohol
- Get Good Advice
I. Minimum Age Laws
Arizona alcohol laws prohibit adults who are 20-year-old newly weds from sharing a glass of wine at their reception. They prevent those under 21 from practicing religious rites involving wine. No communion wine and no wine at Seder.
The laws prohibit parents from teaching their children how to drink in moderation. Arizona law criminalizes these and similar acts. Arizona is a “dry” state for those under 21. Even for adults aged 18, 19, and 20.
Young people in Arizona often want to work part-time. Many jobs exist in hospitality. Youths want to know the minimum age for working around alcohol. What’s the minimum age age to be servers in restaurants? To be bartenders? And to be cashiers in stores selling alcohol?
Persons of age 16 or older may sell alcohol in a store for off-premises consumption. A supervisor at least 19 years of age must be on the premises. The store must primarily sell merchandise other than alcohol.
The use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal act. It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive with any alcohol in their body. Their BAC must be 0.00.
II. More Arizona Alcohol Laws
Alcohol-licensed businesses can serve alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. However, they can’t allow any drinking after 2:30 a.m. Nor may customers have alcohol in open containers between between 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The legal drinking age in the state is 21. Adults and others under age 21 can be in a bar. But they must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse age 21 or older. However, on-duty employees of the business under 21 may also be there unaccompanied. But others under 21 may not enter or remain.
A person may not drink while working as a server.
Intoxicated people may remain in a bar for 30 minutes after an owner or employee notices the intoxication. This law is to allow time for intoxicated people to arrange for sober transportation after leaving.
Businesses may not
- Conduct drinking contests.
- Offer an unlimited number of drinks for a set period of time for a set price.
- Serve more than 50 ounces of beer, one liter of wine, or four ounces of spirits at one time. That is, for one person’s consumption.
It’s a violation of Arizona alcohol laws for a visibly intoxicated person to buy or attempt to buy alcohol. And it’s also a violation for such a person to consume alcohol in a business with an alcohol license.
It’s illegal to use a false I.D. to buy or attempt to buy alcohol. A person under age 21 doing so is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and could be imprisoned.
A person may not legally have a firearm in a business licensed to sell alcohol.
Residents of Arizona may order up to six cases of wine each year. It may come to their home from any winery in the U.S. that has a state permit.
It’s a violation of Arizona drinking laws for people to drink in a public place, gathering or street. This doesn’t apply to drinking in a public recreation area. Nor does it apply to private property or walkways surrounding it with owner’s approval.
People are immune from arrest for “public intoxication” or “public drunkenness.” However, officers may arrest them on some other charge. For example, for being disruptive or offensive.
Suspicion of Impairment
Arizona drinking laws do not require a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test for a conviction of DUI. All that’s required is very simple. It’s an officer’s suspicion that a driver “is impaired to the slightest degree” from alcohol and/or a drug.
A conviction based on such a suspicion is serious. Penalties include jail time, driver’s license suspension, alcohol assessment and treatment, and mandatory ignition interlock device (IID). This device prevents a vehicle’s engine from starting if there’s alcohol in the driver’s breath.
Also, possible probation, community service, and thousands of dollars in fines, fees and expenses. For example, IID installation costs about $1,500. There are also mainteance and monitoring costs.
BAC of 0.08 or Higher.
It’s illegal to have a BAC of 0.08% within two hours of driving or physically controling a vehicle. That includes one that’s in parking mode. Physical control means the the person could have driven if desired. For example, by dozing in the driver’s seat with the keys in a pocket.
Penalties for conviction include up to ten days jail and driver’s license suspension. There’s also an IID for one year. Finally, violators can expect alcohol education or treatment, probation, community service, fines, and fees.
Under Arizona alcohol laws, a BAC exceeding 0.15% but below 0.20% is Extreme DUI. The penalties for Extreme DUI are more serious . They include jail for 30 days, license suspension for 90 days, and an IID. And fines and fees may exceed $3,000.
Arizona drinking laws also include Super Extreme DUI. This is a BAC of 0.20% or higher. Not surprisingly, the penalties for Super Extreme DUI are super high. They include jail for 45 days, 90 days of license suspension, and IID. The total fines, fees, and expenses may top $6,000.
Under Age 21 DUI
It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with even a trace of alcohol in the body. Most states set the limit at 0.02% for several reasons.
One is because of breathalyzer error. Another is the fact that everyone produces alcohol naturally in their body 24/7. And another is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. Setting the limit higher reduces the chances of convicting innocent people.
However, Arizona criminalizes even BACs of less than 0.01%. And that includes even when not driving but simply being in physical control of a vehicle.
The penalties for DUI are more severe than for those age 21 or above. There’s license suspension for two years. Perhaps worse is a criminal record for life. This can severely restrict future career and other options.
There are also fines up to $2,500. Plus there may be costs, surcharges and other fees. Finally, sanctions may include community service and alcohol/drug classes.
The penalty for OUI with a BAC of 0.08 but less than 0.15 is a fine up to $1,450. And the jail sentence is up to 10 days.
Operating with a BAC of 0.15% but less than 0.20% is
“Extreme OUI.” The penalty for this is a fine up to $2,700 and a jail term for up to 30 days.
Operating with a BAC of 0.20% or higher is “Super Extreme OUI.” The state penalizes this with a fine up to $3,150 and jail for as long as 45 days.
III. Resources on Arizona Alcohol Laws
Arizona State Code
Supreme Court Opinions
Attorney General Opinions
Recent Arizona Court of Appeals Decisions (Div.1)
Department of Liquor
State Bar of Arizona
IV. Get Good Legal Advice about Drinking Laws in Arizona
Legal matters can be hard to understand. Laws change. Their interpretation changes. They may be unclear. They may conflict. Do not rely on this website. Nor any other site.
Don’t rely on friends. Nor neighbors. Ignore the advice of co-workers. And that from family members. Smile and thank them. Then ignore their advice unless they’re lawyers. Their advice is worth what you paid for it. That is, nothing. But even worse, it could be misleading.
Get advice about Arizona alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state. It’s the wise thing to do. In addition, alcohol laws and practices vary across the state. Therefore, it’s a good idea to select a lawyer thoroughly familiar with your locality.