According to Virginia law, an underage drinking charge is a misdemeanor, but those accused often ignore the fact that serious consequences may follow a guilty verdict. Penalties for underage drinking, also known as underage possession-of-alcohol, can be quite severe – even for first-time offenders. But the real “crime” can occur when young people allow their good name to be blemished with a permanent criminal record. A negative criminal record may limit education, job, and personal opportunities for many years and dim what might otherwise have been a very bright future. An experienced Virginia underage drinking lawyer will aggressively defend your rights and can work with you to develop a strategy that serves your interests. We also have information on other criminal charges in Virginia with which an attorney can help here. En Español.
It is almost a rite of passage for young people under 21 to attend college parties and other functions where alcohol is easily available. Despite its widespread accessibility, it remains a criminal offense for persons under 21 to possess or consume alcohol. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth have a duty to enforce these laws vigorously, as they pertain directly to public health and safety. Further, if those young people get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, their problems increase exponentially and they may be charged with underage DUI pursuant to 18.2-266.1 or even a “full” DUI offense pursuant to 18.2-266. A DUI charge, even one for an underage driver, can result in dire consequences, including some or all of the following:
There are several offenses connected with misdemeanor alcohol-related charges:
All the charges we’ve spoken of so far are misdemeanors, which typically involves a maximum penalty of up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, most alcohol and identity-related offenses will mandate a driver’s license suspension, even for first-offenses. But at this point; the real threat is how any guilty verdict affects your criminal record and your future, including whether you’ll draw a suspension from your university if your charge violates any honor codes. A NoVa underage drinking lawyer could help.
College students who are convicted of any crimes risk being expelled from school or losing government grants or scholarships – even private financial assistance in some cases, since those involve your promise to refrain from behavior that reflects badly on yourself and the organization that is helping you. These fall under the wide umbrella of “honor code” violations and they are weighed on a school-by-school basis.
But there are options in the law that may be leveraged by your defense lawyer to get underage possession charges completely dismissed. This can greatly benefit first-time offenders, as it means his or her record remains clean of criminal charges. Depending on the factual circumstances of the charges and the jurisdiction, there may be a variety of defenses available and efforts that may be taken to mitigate exposure. Finally, as these cases often involve a potential license suspension, our attorneys can work with you to obtain a restricted license given the specific requirements of the jurisdiction of your offense. Talk to an experienced Virginia underage drinking lawyer today. We handle cases of this nature on a regular basis and we are here to help.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law