Many minors under the age of 21 consider drinking to be a "normal" rite of passage, but the law is meant to discourage this kind of behavior. In New York, it is generally illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol. If a minor is caught with alcohol, they could be charged with an infraction. They may have to participate in an education or substance abuse program and pay for the associated costs. Depending on the severity of the offense and any prior criminal history, other consequences may also apply.
It's important to remember that even if a minor is not actually consuming or purchasing alcohol, they can still be charged for possession. For example, if an underage person is found with an open container of alcohol in their hand or their car, they could face consequences in criminal court.
If you or a friend have been accused of possessing alcohol as a minor, it is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can advise you on your legal rights and help ensure that any potential consequences are minimized.
In addition to criminal penalties, if a minor is caught with alcohol, they may also be subject to university or school disciplinary action. Depending on the severity of the offense, a minor may face suspension or expulsion from their school. Furthermore, they could have difficulty obtaining scholarships and other educational opportunities in the future.
The Legal Consequences
When a minor is caught with alcohol, the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances.
Here are some possible scenarios:
- Possession: If a minor is caught in possession of alcohol, they may face a fine, required completion of an alcohol awareness program, and potentially up to 30 hours of community service. Subsequent offenses can result in increased fines.
- Consumption: Minors caught consuming alcohol can be charged with a violation, which may result in fines, mandatory alcohol-awareness programs, and community service.
- Purchasing Alcohol: If a minor attempts to purchase alcohol, they may be fined and be required to complete an alcohol awareness program and possibly community service.
- Driving Under Influence: If a minor is caught driving with a blood alcohol level between .02% and .07%, they may receive a six-month suspension of their driver's license, a $125 civil penalty, and a $100 fee for suspension termination.
New York has a zero tolerance law for minors under the age of 21 who drink and drive. People under the age of 21 who drive while under the influence of higher amounts of alcohol may face jail time.
What Are the Consequences of Providing Alcohol to a Minor?
It is also illegal for an adult over the age of 21 to provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21. Those who do so can face a $1000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. They may also face civil liability for any harm caused by the minor either to themselves or others.
An exception is provided for a parent or guardian who provides alcohol for their minor child ; however, those parents may face charges under the Social Host Law or Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Minors are also permitted to consume alcohol as part of an education program where consuming alcohol is part of the curriculum, such as culinary school.
Seeking Legal Assistance
If your child has been charged with an underage drinking offense, it's essential to seek legal counsel immediately. At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, our experienced attorneys can help navigate the complex legal process and work towards minimizing the potential consequences.
Remember, while young people may view underage drinking as a rite of passage, the legal ramifications can be significant and long-lasting. It's vital for minors and their parents to understand the risks and consequences involved.
If you find yourself facing this situation, don't hesitate to reach out to us online or call us at (516) 218-5131 for legal support and guidance.