Charges for Underage Drinking in Virginia
Possession of or consumption of alcohol by a minor is something taken very seriously in Virginia. Authorities firmly believe that underage drinking is both a safety and a health hazard to minors, and therefore, there are strict laws for someone who violates Virginia’s underage possession laws. If your child has been arrested for possessing or consuming alcohol and he or she is under 21, it’s important to contact a Leesburg criminal attorney right away.
Most young adults are smart enough to make the right choices in life; however, even the most responsible teenager can make a mistake or have a momentary lapse in judgment. While law enforcement, courts, and prosecutors hate to see a good kid caught up in legal troubles due to one mistake, the fact remains that they have a duty to enforce Virginia laws. They have to set a good example by demonstrating that mistakes and bad choices still have legal consequences.
At Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC, our team of attorneys understands how easy it is for a teenager to make one bad decision that can have long-lasting legal consequences. Our Leesburg criminal defense attorneys can help by defending your teen or young adult who has been charged with violating the underage drinking laws in Virginia.
Virginia Law on Underage Drinking
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minor in Virginia to:
- Buy alcohol;
- Possess any alcohol, unless he or she is delivering alcoholic beverages on order of their parent;
- Consuming alcohol, unless he or she is in a private residence and has permission of a parent or guardian; or
- Work as a bartender, unless it is a place that only serves beer.
Furnishing alcohol to a minor can mean selling or giving alcohol to someone under 21. This is also a crime in Virginia and applies to sales clerks at establishments that sell alcohol. The penalties for this will vary based on whether the sales clerk was aware the person was underage.
In the event they knew and still provided them with alcohol, it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor as well. This is punishable with up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If the clerk did not check identification, they could be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which can result in a fine of up to $500. The business that furnished the alcohol could also be penalized. First time offenses can result in a fine of up to $2,000, and the state may opt to revoke the business’ liquor license.
Penalties for Underage Drinking
For a minor who is charged with underage drinking, the penalties are very similar to someone charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. Class 1 misdemeanor penalties can include:
- Up to 12 months in jail;
- A fine of $500 to $2,500 plus community service up to 50 hours;
- Mandatory referral to a substance abuse counselor; and
- Suspension of your Virginia driver’s license for a period of six to 12 months, plus court costs and a license replacement fee.
Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you need representation for your child who was charged with underage drinking, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today at 703-997-4982 to schedule an initial consultation.