Underage drinking

Underage drinking

Underage drinking is an offense that can have serious repercussions on a young person’s future, especially when motor vehicles are involved. Although less than 10% of all licensed drivers in New York State are under 21, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility states that they still account for 14% of all drunk driving fatalities. For this reason, underage drinkers can have a more negative social image than their adult counterparts and can encounter harsher penalties.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law states that anyone under 21 who purchases or attempts to purchase alcoholic beverages can be ordered to pay a $100 fine and perform up to 30 hours of community service. Second offenders face a fine of up to $350 in addition to community service. Anyone with two or more underage drinking charges on their record can be fined up to $750, ordered to do community service, and be required to attend an alcohol awareness course.

If someone under 21 buys liquor using fake identification, then their driver’s license can be suspended. Should they be caught driving while under the influence, they face license suspension, a $125 fine, and a $100 fee payable upon return of their license. In addition, possession of a forged ID can result in the following charges:

  •     Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree
  •     Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree.

If your son or daughter is charged with underage drinking, then contact a criminal defense attorney who can review the case and determine which valid defenses could apply. In New York State, those under 21 may consume limited quantities of alcohol under the following circumstances:

  •     For school courses such as wine tasting or preparation of recipes that call for liquor as an ingredient
  •     Parents or guardians may serve their child liquor in moderate quantities

Federal law allows those under 21 to possess alcohol for an acceptable religious purpose, for medicinal uses, and in private homes. They may also handle and serve alcohol as part of their lawful employment, such as serving in a restaurant.

The drinking age laws on federal properties usually reflect those of the surrounding state, with the exception of military bases, where the commanding officer has the authority to waive the minimum age requirement in certain circumstances. If the base is located in two states simultaneously or within 50 miles of another state, Mexico, or Canada, then the lowest legal drinking age may apply.

The attorney you hire will assist your son, daughter or loved one by raising mitigating factors, such as lack of a prior record, or the fact that they may have been legally permitted to drink in the state or location that served them alcohol, to obtain a more lenient sentence or to get the charges dismissed altogether. A good criminal defense attorney is the best possible resource for preventing a criminal record and enabling your child to put this mistake behind them. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being questioned by the police, you have the right to remain silent and should exercise that right.   Speak to a lawyer who will work to protect your rights at all stages of the justice system–from the investigation to the actual trial. Julie Rendelman is a former Kings County prosecutor with over 20 years of legal experience. She handles both New York State and federal criminal law cases and offers free consultations at 212-951-1232. Visit www.RendelmanLaw.com to learn more about Ms. Rendelman’s areas of practice.