Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers For Underage Drinking Charges
A crazy one-off night with friends can quickly turn sour if caught underage drinking by Maryland law enforcement.
What Can Maryland Prosecute As “Underage Drinking” Charges?
As a rule, Maryland law prohibits state citizens under the age of 21 to:
- Purchase alcoholic beverages
- Possess alcoholic beverages
- Drink alcoholic beverages
Related charges to underage drinking can include:
- Using a false ID to purchase alcohol
- Selling alcohol to minors
- Knowingly hosting an underage drinking party for those unrelated to you
- DUIs. Unlike adult cases that require a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, absolutely any detectable alcohol in a driver younger than 21 will have a traffic violation. As little as 0.02 BAC will trigger a DUI. This is part of Maryland’s “Zero Tolerance” laws.
Are There Ways To Legally Drink Under Age 21 In Maryland?
Not all cases of underage drinking are as good as lost. In fact, there are some reasons underage people may be drinking that are allowed by law.
Even if out and about, if they can prove that they were drinking in these situations, they may not be found guilty of an underage drinking charge.
For example, if you’re under 21 and working for someone who has a valid liquor license, you are allowed to possess alcohol (but not drink it).
In general, servers and bartenders must still be 18 years old to serve beer and wine. Servers can be only 18 to provide spirits to patrons, but bartenders must be the full 21 years old to handle spirits.
If you’re in a private residence, you can drink alcohol as long as you have the permission and supervision of an adult family member. Normally, a parent must be present and over the age of 21.
Another time minors may drink in Maryland is during a religious ceremony. During the Episcopal and Roman Catholic rites, there are some occasions when alcohol consumption is sanctioned.
What Are Possible Legal Consequences For Underage Drinking?
Even if “lots of kids” end up drinking before they turn the legal age of 21, getting caught and convicted of an underage drinking offense in Maryland will have severe repercussions and punishments.
- Illegal possession, purchase, or drinking of alcohol by a minor is considered a misdemeanor offense with up to a $500 fine for the first conviction and up to $1,000 each for future convictions.
- Minors trying to buy alcohol with fake identification can end up in prison for up to two months and up to a $500 in fines. They might also have their driver’s license suspended and/or get 10+ points on their driving records.
- Minors selling fake IDs get a much harsher sentence: Up to $2,000 in fines and up to two years in jail for each fake ID sold.
- Underage DUIs are similar to other DUI charges, with the possibility of mandatory participation in the ignition interlock program, suspension of driving privileges, years behind bars, and thousands in fines. The conviction remains on their driving record permanently (unless it qualifies for expungement).
Underage drinking-related convictions can turn up on background checks, interfere with college acceptances and scholarships, and fundamentally change the trajectory of a child’s future.
What Can Criminal Defense Lawyers Do To Help Underage Drinking Charges?
Since convictions of these charges will haunt a child for years to come – even after they turn 18 – the best way to protect a child is to hire the best criminal defense attorney you possibly can.
Criminal defense lawyers – especially those with experience in Maryland’s juvenile legal system – can help keep a minor’s case in the juvenile courts, where the punishments are generally less harsh and permanent.
They may even be able to have the Department of Juvenile Services avoid pressing charges at all, and instead facilitate rehabilitation and therapy programs.
Many kids do stupid things as an experiment or as a cry for attention. Don’t let their mistake wreck a future they can barely begin to grasp. Our lawyers will defend your child as if it were their own who messed up – and their own who deserves a second chance to do the right thing.
“I had nothing but a phenomenal experience. My lawyer was very professional and vested in my case. He helped me to ensure that my son’s well-being and health was the top priority, and the results of the case proved that. Would highly recommend this firm.”
Find out what it’s like to work with us.