Our D.C. underage drinking defense lawyers know that as we approach prom and graduation season, we are likely to be seeing similar actions throughout the country. It’s important that both minors and their parents not panic, but are also educated about their rights.
While we certainly understand the concept of teaching our young people a lesson, a criminal conviction is not the way to do it. In addition to the criminal penalties a minor would face, an arrest for underage drinking could potentially affect the youth’s chances of being accepted to certain colleges or of being eligible for certain scholarships and grants.
Many times, underage drinking defendants are first-time offenders with no prior criminal history. As such we are often able to work out deals with prosecutors in which adjudication is withheld – that is, it won’t remain on your child’s record – assuming he or she meets whatever probationary requirements are set forth.
And in a lot of cases, the circumstances were such that officers may have made an arrest, but don’t actually have a strong case to actually prove your child was consuming alcohol.
In the first case out of Indianapolis, a bar was shut down in the late hours of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, where some 80 minors were reportedly found inside. Officers said “dozens” of those were found drinking, some as young as 13 years-old.
A total of 80 minors were arrested, with about 12 charged with illegal possession or illegal consumption of alcohol. At least one was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for bringing a young sibling with them to the bar.
In a chaotic scene such as this with so many simultaneous arrests, it would likely be difficult for an officer to attest in court as to who did what. Many times, they are counting on parents not fighting back on the charges.
(One thing that may work against the defendants in this case is the fact that police were called to investigate after a flier circulated advertising the birthday party of a 13-year-old at the tavern.)
Police are recommending the liquor license of the bar be pulled. The bar was cited for 80 counts of allowing a minor loiter. A bartender too was cited for serving minors, who were later released to their parents.
A week later, a dance hall in the same city was shut down after police arrived to conduct an undercover drinking sweep. Several underage people were found with “questionable” identifications.
Here’s what you need to know about underage drinking laws in D.C.:
- If you are under the age of 21, it is illegal for you to possess, drink, buy or attempt to buy alcohol. It doesn’t matter if you are with family or in your own home. Violators can be fined up to $1,000 and will lose driving privileges for three months to a year;
- It is illegal for you to falsely represent your age with a phony identification for the purposes of buying, possessing or drinking alcohol;
- It is illegal for anyone to buy alcohol for or sell it to a person under the age of 21;
- One must be at least 18 years-old to serve alcohol and at least 21 years-old to work as a bartender;
- Drivers who are under 21 are considered above the legal limit if their blood alcohol level registers at 0.02 percent – far lower than the recognized national standard for over-21 adults, which is 0.08 percent.
If you are facing underage drinking charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.