There are a lot of young people, and perhaps even some parents, who might not have a problem with giving someone who is under the legal age a few alcoholic beverages. Some parents might especially think it's okay if they know the young person is being watched by a responsible adult.
But here in Virginia, taking such a cavalier attitude toward underage drinking can actually put a young person in a very serious legal situation. That's because consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is considered a crime in our state – a crime that carries steep punishments that can haunt a young person for the rest of their life. This is especially true if the young person drinks and decides to drive a vehicle afterward.
A young person who is not of legal drinking age can face a Class 1 misdemeanor if they are caught driving under the influence in Virginia. Though the legal limit for adults is .08, young persons are held to a lower percentage – .02 BAC – because of our state's zero tolerance policy. A conviction would mean:
- The suspension of the person's driver's license for at least a year
- A mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service
The misdemeanor would also continue to show up on the young person's criminal record, possibly impacting employment opportunities and the severity of future criminal charges.
Talk to your kids about the serious legal consequences associated with underage drinking. If you don't, they could face a future marred by a mistake that could have been avoided, which is likely not a future you would want for them.
Source: Virginia Decoded, "§ 18.2-266.1," Accessed Dec. 14, 2015