In every state in the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. Anyone under the legal age is considered a minor or underage. Alcohol can impair your judgment, motor skills, and reflexes and make things like driving very unsafe. If too much alcohol is consumed in a short time, you can become sick and may need medical attention. While many people enjoy having a drink or two, the law seeks to protect young people from the dangers of alcohol consumption. There are special penalties for minors who unlawfully consume alcohol.
Multiple alcohol-related offenses target underage drinkers specifically. Underage consumption will be met with harsh penalties that may be upgraded if the minor has previous underage drinking violations on their record. There may also be other penalties for offenses surrounding the underage consumption of alcohol, such as using a fake I.D. or soliciting others to buy alcohol for you.
If your child was arrested for the underage consumption of alcohol, you should get in touch with our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers. We can help assess the penalties for your child’s alleged offenses and discuss the possibility of expungement. Schedule a free consultation with our team at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.
Penalties for Alcohol Consumption by Minors in Utah
The sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol are strictly regulated. There are many laws surrounding alcohol, including who may buy, sell, and consume it. Even though many people enjoy alcoholic beverages in a bar, restaurant, or at home, overconsumption can lead to disaster. As such, only adults age 21 or older are permitted to consume alcohol. Any underage drinkers may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and penalized accordingly.
Minors may face penalties for having any measurable alcohol concentration in their blood, breath, or urine. In Utah, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for a DUI is .05%. In many other states, that limit is .08%. For minors and underage drinkers, there is no minimum limit, and, instead, you may face penalties for having any detectable amount of alcohol in your system. However, a minor may be punished for consuming alcohol in any setting, not just behind the wheel of a car.
An underage person caught consuming alcohol or with alcohol in their system may be required by the court to undergo screening and assessment for substance abuse. If needed, the minor must complete an educational series or treatment program for drugs and alcohol. An underage drinker who is at least 18 but younger than 21 may have their driver’s license suspended. The suspension period may be reduced if this is the minor’s first violation of underage drinking.
Exceptions to the Prohibition on Underage Drinking in Utah
Even though it is generally against the law for an underage person to possess or consume alcohol, there are several exceptions. First, it may not be unlawful for an underage person, who is still at least 18 years of age, to consume alcohol for a medicinal purpose. The alcohol must be supplied by the underage person’s parent, legal guardian, or health care provider if they are authorized to write prescriptions. However, this is a somewhat limited exception and does not allow minors to freely consume alcohol however and whenever they wish under the guise of “medicinal purposes.”
A minor may also lawfully consume alcohol as part of a religious organization’s religious service. One commonly known example of alcohol being used as part of a religious service is Catholic mass. It is common for Catholics to drink wine as part of their church services. In such a case, a minor would be permitted to take part in the religious practice of consuming alcohol. However, this exception may not cover heavy drinking or other forms of alcohol consumption that are out of line with the usual religious practice. For example, a religious practice may involve only a sip of alcohol during religious services. A minor who drinks several glasses may not be able to claim this exception. A sip of alcohol is part of their religion, heavy drinking is not.
If your child was arrested for underage alcohol consumption, please call our Utah criminal defense attorneys for guidance on this matter.
Additional Alcohol-Related Offenses for Minors in Utah
Minors may be penalized for more than simply consuming alcohol while underage. Alcohol is heavily regulated and it is common for other offenses to be connected to underage drinking. If your child was arrested for underage drinking in Utah, they might be facing additional charges and penalties for other related offenses. Call our Utah underage drinking defense lawyers to discuss your child’s case with our experienced team.
A minor may be charged for unlawful proof of age, otherwise known as using a fake I.D. A person may also be charged for transferring their I.D. or proof of age to someone else. If a minor is found to be using a fake I.D. to purchase alcohol, they could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If someone transfers their proof of age to someone else (i.e., sharing their I.D.), that person may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
It is also unlawful for a minor to gain admittance, or attempt to gain admittance, to a tavern or bar. These establishments often require patrons to be of the legal drinking age to be admitted. If a minor is found inside, they could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. This may be in addition to charges for using a fake I.D. to gain entrance to the establishment in the first place.
An adult may also face charges if they sold, gave, or offered alcohol to a minor. These charges often arise when an adult has agreed to purchase alcohol to give to a minor who cannot legally purchase the alcohol themselves. Such an offense may be charged as a Class B misdemeanor if the adult negligently failed to realize the minor was underage. It might be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the adult did know the minor was underage.
If you believe any of these situations may apply to your case, call our Sandy DUI defense lawyers for help.
Call Our Utah Underage Drinking Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If your child has been charged with underage drinking or a related offense, you should immediately speak with a lawyer. Criminal charges for minors are usually handled differently than adults. There may also be a possibility for expungement of their criminal record in the future. Call (801) 758-2287 to arrange a free legal consultation with our Park City Utah DUI attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC.