As far as alcohol-related crimes go, drunk driving receives by far the most attention. However, for young adults and children under the age of 21, even possessing or drinking alcohol can result in criminal charges. While drinking underage is fairly common nowadays, it is still a crime and can result in serious consequences. Over the last couple of decades, Virginia has made more of an effort to enforce underage drinking laws, which means young people are more likely to get arrested for liquor law violations than ever before.
The most common violations include underage consumption of alcohol, underage possession of alcohol and underage purchase of alcohol. According to Va. Code Sec. 4.1-305, possessing alcohol before you turn 21 is a Class I Misdemeanor and could result in up to a fine up to $2,500 and a year in jail. The minimum penalties include a $500 fine or 50 hours of community service as part of your probation supervision.
If you are convicted for underage alcohol possession, you may lose your driving privileges. If you are 18 or older, you may have your license suspended from 6 months to a year, while drivers ages 16 to 18 will lose their driving privileges for 6 months. If a driver is under 16, he or she will not be able to apply for a license for six months after they turn 18, plus three months.
Young people should also be aware that having a criminal charge on your record, even if it is only a misdemeanor, could have a significant impact on your life. You may find it difficult to find a job, get accepted into college or enlist in the military. However, there are ways for you to defend yourself against underage possession and other liquor law violations. If you decide to hire an attorney, they will help you challenge these allegations by holding all evidence against you to the highest standard. If the evidence against you is unreliable or irrelevant to the case, the court may decide to dismiss the charges against you.