How many drinks can a person under 21 safely have before driving? In Arizona, the answer is now "none."
For drivers under 21, drinking and driving in Arizona is riskier than ever thanks to a new state "zero tolerance" law which went into effect Aug. 9 and which dictates that underage drivers with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system will receive a mandatory two-year suspension of their license.
"That's not 'driving under the influence,' that's 'in their system,'" emphasizes Payson justice court corrections officer David Paul.
"I think this is a good law," Paul said. "I think it's going to make people realize that the only way you get compliance is by getting people's attention and the only way you can get their attention is by writing citations."
And the punishment could end up being worse than it reads in the lawbooks, Paul adds.
"Beyond the citation, there's no telling what the Motor Vehicle Department could do. They could extend the suspension for another six months, or maybe suspend a person's license for life, if they keep violating this law. It could be an expensive fine as well."
More than 32 percent of all deaths of 15 to 20 year olds result from motor vehicle crashes.