Arizona Alcohol Laws: Do You Know The Laws?

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.

I. Minimum Age Laws

I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources on Alcohol
IV.  Seek Good Advice

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?

arizona alcohol lawsState of Arizona alcohol laws permit adults aged 19 or older to serve alcohol or tend bar. They can do so anywhere alcohol is available to drink on-site.

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. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

arizona alcohol lawsAlcohol-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. Others under 21 are not permitted to 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.

Buying Alcohol

It’s a violation of Arizona alcohol laws for a visibly intoxicated person to buy or attempt to buy alcohol. Also a violation for such a person to consume alcohol in an alcohol licensed business.

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 be shipped 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.

arizona alcohol lawsA conviction based on such a suspicion is serious. Penalties include mandatory jail time, driver’s license suspension, alcohol assessment and treatment, and mandatory ignition interlock device. Also, possible probation, community service, and thousands of dollars in fines, fees and expenses. For example, ignition interlock device installation costs about $1,500.

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 is parked. 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 incarceration and driver’s license suspension. There’s also mandatory alcohol ignition interlock for one year. Finally, violators can expect alcohol education or treatment, probation, community service, fines, and fees.

Extreme DUI

Arizona alcohol lawsUnder 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 mandatory imprisonment for 30 days, license suspension for 90 days, and a mandatory ignition interlock device. Fines and fees may exceed $3,000.

Super-Extreme DUI

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 mandatory imprisonment for 45 days, 90 days of license suspension, and mandatory ignition interlock. 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 expected 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.

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 parked vehicle.

The penalties for DUI are more severe than for those age 21 or above. There’s mandatory license suspension for two years along with a permanent criminal record for life. This can severely restrict future career and other options. There are fines up to $2,500. Plus there may be costs, surcharges and other fees. Finally, sanctions may include community service and alcohol/drug classes.


arizona alcohol lawsArizona alcohol laws prohibit anyone from operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Anyone doing so is guilty of operating under the influence (OUI).

The penalty for OUI with a BAC of 0.08 but less than 0.15 is a fine up to $1,450 and a jail sentence up to 10 days.

Driving 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 imprisonment for as long as 45 days.

III. Resources on Arizona Alcohol Laws

Arizona State Code
Arizona alcohol lawsAdministrative Code
Legislative Information
Supreme Court Opinions
Attorney General Opinions
Recent Arizona Court of Appeals Decisions (Div.1)
Recent Arizona Court of Appeals Decisions (Div.2)
Department of Liquor
State Bar of Arizona


IV. Seek Good Legal Advice

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. Or any other site. Don’t rely on friends. Or neighbors. Ignore the advice of co-workers. And that from family members. Smile and thank them. Then ignore their advice.

arizona alcohol lawsGet information or 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 attitudes and practices vary across the state. Therefore, it’s a good idea to select a lawyer thoroughly familiar with your locality.