By Claudia Gilburd, Founder, Teen Law School™ The facts are very frightening. According to a recent national study, nearly 30% of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking at least one alcoholic beverage in the previous 30 days. Almost 20% reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks) in the prior month, and nearly 6% described themselves as chronic, heavy drinkers.* In Arizona, according to a statewide study, the average age for first time alcohol use is 13, and more than 30% of our 8th, 10th and 12th grade students admit to riding in a car in the prior 30 days with an underage driver who had consumed alcohol.** How is this possible? Where are our children getting all this alcohol?   And how is this level of abuse going on under the (supposedly) watchful eyes of parents and the law?  The answers to these questions are even more frightening than the facts, since young people report gaining access to alcohol “at parties,” acquiring alcohol “from home” or asking older siblings, friends or even parents to provide them with beverages they can’t lawfully acquire on their own. Parents beware: not only is it illegal in Arizona for a person under 21 to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages of any kind (A.R.S. 4-241), it is also unlawful to provide or purchase alcohol for a minor (A.R.S.4-244(9)). The consequences of breaking these laws can be very serious indeed.  If a minor is cited for any amount of alcohol in his or her system, law enforcement will refer the case to juvenile court for hearing and penalties including probation, mandatory community service, alcohol education and driver’s license suspension up to 180 days. If a minor driver with any amount of blood alcohol is arrested (the violation is known as a “baby DUI”), the driver’s license suspension extends for two years, and all the penalties of an adult DUI will apply. If accident or injury to another is involved, the penalties will be stiffer still and the financial burden of restitution or civil actions will fall upon the parents of the minor. Alcohol violations remain on a minor’s record, and they will impact the consideration of a juvenile court in any future proceedings.  Parents, guardians and adult supervisors of minor children can also be implicated under Arizona’s Social Hosting Law (A.R.S.4-244(9)). Let’s say your 15-year old child invites two teens to a slumber party at your house. Without your knowledge, they consume alcohol during the party. Regardless of whether the alcohol was already in your home or brought in by one of the guests, you can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (fines up to $2,500 and 6 months in jail) and be held financially responsible for consequences arising from their consumption of alcohol. The law says that when two or more unrelated minors are visitors in your home, and you know or should have known that they are drinking alcohol, you are liable. The state underscores the most important fact of all – that ultimately parents are responsible for influencing and overseeing their minor children’s actions. To protect yourself and your children, store any alcohol in your home under lock and key. Ask the parents of your children’s friends to do the same, and talk with your children about the physical, emotional and legal dangers of underage drinking. Helpful information can be found at www.wedontserveteens.org and at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.

These are general suggestions regarding potentially complex legal issues.  If you or your child becomes involved in a criminal case involving DUI, Drugs, or any other substance related crime, don’t hesitate to contact Davis Miles Law Firm to ensure your legal rights are zealously protected. *SAMHSA National Survey of Drug Use and Health 2007 ** 2008 Arizona Youth Survey Claudia Gilburd will be bringing one of her Teen Law School, Inc. seminars to Davis Miles.  Join us for an informative evening FREE of charge. "When Good Kids Made Bad Choices: A Primer for Parents"
Tuesday, March 23rd 6:00pm
Davis Miles Offices
560 W Brown Road, 3rd Floor
Mesa, AZ  85201 Register by calling 480-344-4072 or through the "Contact us" box on top of this page.  Please indicate your interest in this seminar and how many people will be attending.