If you or your child has been charged with an underage drinking offense, you may be thinking of hiring an underage drinking lawyer. Despite being largely prohibited, underage drinking is prevalent in the United States and is one of the most commonly occurring criminal offenses in the country among underage individuals.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 60 percent of American youth admit to having had at least one drink before they turned 18 years old, and 7 million youths between the ages of 12 and 20 reported that they drank more than ‘a few sips’ of alcohol in the past month. With alcohol consumption being an unwritten adolescent rite of passage, it is easy for our youth to fall foul of the law.
Underage Drinking Laws
In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, setting the legal age for purchasing and publicly consuming alcohol at 21. While all states are required to adhere to federal law, many states have specific exemptions that allow individuals under the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) to consume alcohol. Laws and penalties differ from state to state, so it is prudent to consult an underage drinking lawyer in your locale for relevant advice.
Certain states in America have an exemption for those under the MLDA to drink alcoholic beverages for religious reasons, for example consuming wine as part of a church ceremony. Other states allow them to drink in their private homes under the consent and supervision of a parent or guardian. In a few states, like Texas, there are even exemptions for people under the MLDA to drink in bars with parental consent.
Although there can be some exemptions, penalties can be considerable for young people who are caught breaking the underage drinking law. Minors who attempt to purchase alcohol or transport alcohol can be punished with a fine and have their driver’s licenses suspended for several months. If they made or used a false identification card, the penalties could escalate to imprisonment.
Similarly, certain policies affect drinking venues, including minimum age stipulations for servers and bartenders as well as keg registration requirements. If individuals or venues are found to be selling alcohol to minors, penalties can include heavy fines, jail time, or a liquor license revocation. In many states, criminal penalties apply for individuals—even parents—who host parties with underage drinking.
Prominent Underage Drinking Attorneys
Whether you are on the serving or consuming end of the underaged drinking charge, having a knowledgeable underage drinking lawyer can do wonders for the result. Here are some prominent lawyers and law firms in America that are known for handling underage drinking cases.
Patel Defense in Indianapolis is fronted by principal attorney Monish Patel. As a former deputy prosecutor with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office and a defense attorney with the Marion County Public Defender’s Office, Patel has worked with thousands of clients and has extensive experience in handling criminal cases. The firm fights vigorously for clients with a strong focus on juvenile law, and boasts a 95 percent success rate for DUI cases.
Teiger Law Center
Teiger Law Center in Cumming, Georgia, specializes in underage drinking cases that may or may not include DUI charges. Principal attorney Tracy Teiger brings his experience as a federal investigator into his legal practice, to provide a holistic perspective and comprehensive representation of his clients. With thirty years of experience under his belt, Teiger offers insightful and aggressive legal representation to protect his clients from prosecution.
Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein
For those who prefer to hire larger law firms, Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein from Boston have a winning criminal defense team with a solid background in the courtroom. In its fifty years of operation, the firm has represented the rights of defendants from first-degree murder to underage drinking cases, and maintains an remarkable record of jury acquittals. The firm additionally champions student rights, representing hundreds of students across New England.
Hire an Underage Drinking Attorney
While we may not all have access to prominent lawyers, you will still be able to find an experienced and passionate underage drinking attorney in your state. As underage drinking laws are state-specific, the best underage drinking lawyer will be one that specializes in cases within your state. Good legal support can help to determine the appropriate defense to the charges and may even lead to cases being dismissed without a permanent record.
Teenagers love to have a bit of fun. Unfortunately, underage drinking charges can result in serious ramifications for both buyers and sellers. For young people, a blemish on their record could affect their education options and future careers. For parents, a charge of providing alcohol could lead to an irretrievable loss of reputation. By gaining the assistance of a veteran underage drinking lawyer, people who are charged with underage drinking can ensure the best possible outcome.