Arizona Drinking Laws


Alcohol laws can vary depending on what state you’re in, so it’s important to know what the rules are in Arizona. Visitors and even Arizona residents often break the law on accident, but ignorance isn’t a legal excuse for committing an offense. 

The following are things you should keep in mind about alcohol-related crimes in Arizona:

  • Alcohol laws can vary significantly from state to state
  • Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country 
  • Arizona’s drinking laws prohibit you from drinking in a public street, gathering, or similar area
  • Unlike some other states, the laws in Arizona don’t contain civil or criminal penalties for being drunk in public
  • If you’ve been accused of a drinking offense, it’s important to seek legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney

Types of Alcohol-Related Crimes

Below are some of the most commonly charged crimes related to drinking in Arizona: 

Underage Drinking

It’s against the law for people younger than 21 to drink or possess alcohol. In some cases, certain individuals can consume alcohol for medicinal or religious purposes, even if they’re underage.

Fake ID Possession

If you’re caught with a fake ID, you may get your license taken away for 6 months. In some cases, you’ll receive other consequences in addition to losing your license temporarily.

DUI Offenses 

Arizona has very harsh penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. If you’re caught driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 percent or more, you’ll likely face high fines and time in jail. For underage drinkers, there’s a zero-tolerance policy for having alcohol in your system while driving.

Drinking in Public 

Consuming alcohol in public is a crime in Arizona. This offense is commonly charged when someone brings alcohol into a car or limo or takes it outside of a designated drinking area. 

As mentioned, it’s illegal to drink in a public street, gathering, or similar place. However, this rule doesn’t apply to private property or a public recreation area. While you can’t be arrested for public drunkenness alone, you can get arrested for being offensive or disruptive while intoxicated. 

Penalties for Drinking Crimes in Arizona

As mentioned, using a fake ID to purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages is illegal and is a class 3 misdemeanor crime with a potential for incarceration. The crime of consuming alcohol as a minor (minor in consumption) is a class 1 misdemeanor and may come with fines, jailtime, and a suspended license. 

Driving under the influence may come with up to 6 months in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. You may also get probation, community service, and instructions to attend a class on alcohol education. 

Possible Defenses for Alcohol Offenses

Whether you’re underage or over 21, a drinking-related conviction can have a serious impact on your future. For this reason, contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is essential for protecting yourself. 

Some common defenses for driving under the influence include an improper stop by law enforcement, improper storage or testing of blood alcohol samples, and Miranda Rights violations. In other cases, a police officer may have failed to follow proper protocol for field sobriety testing or communicated inappropriately with you during your arrest. 

FAQ on Drinking-Related Crimes in Arizona 

Below are some commonly asked questions related to alcohol offenses in Arizona: 

Q: How old do you have to be to work around alcohol in Arizona? 

State law allows adults who are 19 years of age or older to tend bar or serve alcohol at work. They are allowed to do this in any area where alcohol is available to drink on location. Individuals who are at least 16 can sell alcoholic beverages at a store for consumption off the premises, as long as the store primarily sells products other than alcohol.

Q: What are the rules for drinking and driving a boat? 

State law prohibits you from operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Doing so can lead to an OUI (operating under the influence) charge. If your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.15 percent, you may get a jail sentence of 10 days or less and a fine of up to $1,450. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20 percent, it’s an “Extreme OUI,” which comes with a jail term of up to 30 days and a fine of $2,700 or less. 

If you operate a boat and your BAC is 0.20 percent or more, it counts as a “Super Extreme OUI,” which can land you in jail for up to 45 days and comes with a fine of up to $3,150. 

Q: Is it legal to deliver alcoholic beverages in Arizona? 

Distilled spirits and wine may be shipped within or into the state via the Internet. However, other types of liquor made for personal consumption purposes (and not for resale) can only be made through a retail business that is licensed in Arizona. 

Q: What is a “zero tolerance state”?

Zero tolerance laws mandate an automatic punishment for breaking a rule and make it illegal for any person under 21 to drive a car with any amount of alcohol in their system. Arizona is a zero-tolerance state, which also means that an officer may arrest a driver with a BAC of less than the legal limit if they believe that the person has been driving impaired. 

What to Do if You’re Facing Charges

The law is complex and always changing, and having a criminal record can severely harm your future opportunities in life. With marks on your record, you may have a harder time getting a job, finding a place to live, or even getting into some graduate programs. So, it’s advisable that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been accused of such an offense. They will be able to answer your questions and help you come up with the best course of action for your case.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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