Most high school graduates remember at least a few kids who seemed to be able to break the law without getting caught. When it came to alcohol, some of our peers always seemed to have access. Maybe they had parents who didn’t believe in age-based prohibitions against alcohol. Maybe they had an older sibling who was willing to act as a buyer once they reached 21.
Whatever the situation, it wasn’t that hard for underage people to get hold of alcoholic beverages. For teens and young adults today, the situation hasn’t changed all that much. Common sources of alcohol for under-21 drinkers include:
- Older siblings, friends and romantic partners
- Parents hoping to teach kids how to drink responsibly
- Busy or negligent liquor store personnel
- Young adults over 21 who want to seem cool
- Theft from parents or retail establishments
The point is, laws against underage drinking only work if adults go along with them — and some don’t. Before you agree to provide alcohol to a minor, however, you need to know you could charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If you are convicted, you can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up to $2,500. On top of that, the loss of your license for up to a year is mandatory.
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, these penalties apply whether you sell alcohol to a minor, help an underage person buy it, or even give it to them for free.
Don’t give up, and don’t just plead guilty. A misdemeanor may not seem important enough to fight, but the real consequences range from extremely inconvenient to live-altering. If you have been charged with providing alcohol to a minor, minor in possession or any alcohol-related offense, you have the right to defend yourself — and it is well worth doing so.