In Arthur L. Pressman Law Blog, Juvenile Crimes

Underage Drinking Penalties

If you are charged with purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol under the age of 21, you could face serious consequences. Here is some important information on New York State’s underage drinking penalties. Contact our office today for experienced DWI and criminal defense.

Underage Drinking Penalties | DWI Under 21

As an experienced Buffalo DWI lawyer, I am often asked by parents as to what the penalties are if their child is convicted for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired under the age of 21 (the legal drinking age in New York State). If you are convicted, you will lose your driver’s license for a minimum of at least one year. Even a trace amount of alcohol in your system will be cause for arrest.

If you blow a BAC of .08 or more, you will be treated as an adult. If you have a strong suspicion that you will register at .08 or above, you should weigh the option of refusing the breath test. You do have this right, but exercising it will carry consequences, including the automatic suspension of your license for one year (which would run concurrently with your “driving after consuming alcohol” or DWI suspension), and fines from the DMV.

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Underage Drinking Penalties | Purchasing Alcohol with a Fake ID

There is technically no “underage drinking” charge in New York; nor is there an explicit prohibition on purchasing alcohol. If police catch you drinking alcohol, however, you aren’t likely to get away without a charge. Under the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, it is an offense for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage through fraudulent means. This is separate from the law against possession of false identification. The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it a misdemeanor to buy (or sell) a fake or stolen license (and a second offense is a felony), while it is an offense (though not a “criminal” offense”) to “possess or use any forged, fictitious or illegally obtained license, or any license belonging to another person.” On top of this, it’s an offense under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law for a person under 21 to possess alcohol “with the intent to consume.”

This means that if you use a fake ID to purchase alcohol, you could face three separate charges – or more, depending on the context. The only exception to the possession or consumption charges is for alcohol provided by a parent or guardian – but if you’re at a bar or restaurant and you use a fake ID to purchase alcohol with your parent or guardian’s consent and affirmation, you could still face charges for possession of the ID, while your parent or guardian would face charges for misrepresenting your age for the purpose of purchasing and consuming alcohol.

If your child is facing legal consequences as a result of underage drinking, please contact our Buffalo DWI lawyers today to receive a free consultation.

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