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Teens in Virginia are often under the impression that there is nothing wrong with minor consumption of alcohol, even though they are underage and against the law. The fact is that it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to purchase, possess or attempt to purchase or possess any alcoholic beverage. In addition to this criminal act, there are other behaviors that often occur in conjunction to drinking, such as underage drinking and driving that can lead to significant, life-altering penalties.

If a person under the age of 21 violates the above-listed laws, it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, there could be a fine of as much as $2,500, a year in jail, 50 hours of community service or all of the above. Additionally, the person might have driving privileges revoked for as long as one year whether they were charged with DUI or not. If a law enforcement officer finds a person under the age of 21 possessing alcohol, the item can be confiscated and charges can be filed.

Teens might also mistakenly believe that they are within the confines of the law if someone over the age of 21 purchases the alcoholic beverage for them. This too is illegal for both the purchaser and the teen receiving the alcohol. The teen who receives the alcohol will be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor. If there is a conviction, there could be incarceration for up to one year, a fine of as much as $2,500 or both.

If a teen drinks and drives, it must be understood that the law is harsh. A charge for drinking and driving will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties will include the loss of driving privileges for one year from the date of the conviction, as well as a minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service.

Those who have been charged with alcohol-related offenses while underage need to understand the potential consequences they will face, if they are convicted of any violation related to underage drinking. To avoid the penalties under the juvenile law system, it is important to lodge a strong defense with help from an experienced attorney.

Source: VirginiaRules.com, "Alcohol and Tobacco," accessed on Dec. 14, 2015

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