Back to School – Dealing with Teenagers and Alcohol

Mixing Teens and Alcohol

Growing up many teenagers will experiment with alcohol.  I will leave the why and wherefores to others. I want to talk about how mixing teenagers and alcohol can cause serious problems for the teenager and their parents. It can lead to both the teenager and their parents being arrested!

Minor in Possession

Under Alabama Law it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, have, transport or consume alcoholic beverages.  The only exception is for someone who is working as a waiter at a licensed restaurant.  This means that if a minor is caught with alcohol in the car they are operating and there is not a person over the age of 21 in the car they can be charged, regardless if the alcohol is open or is sealed.  There is no exception for private property.  If a person under the age of 21 is caught in possession of alcohol on private property they can be charged with Minor in Possession.

There are two different statutes that a person can be charged under.  Ala. Code § 28-1-5 (1975) states that if the person is found guilty, they will be fined and may have a jail sentence of no more than 30 days.  Ala. Code § 28-3A-25 (1975) states that if the person is found guilty, they will be fined, may have a jail sentence up to 90 days and that their license will be suspended for 3 to 6 months.

If a person under the age of 21 uses a fake ID to attempt to or purchases alcohol, they can be arrested and charged. If convicted that person will face, a fine, may have a jail sentence up to 90 days and their driver’s license will be suspended for 3 to 6 months.

DUI

Here is a detailed discussions of the consequences of being convicted of a DUI in Alabama.  In this section we are talking about DUI’s and persons under the age of 21.  Under Alabama Law if a person under the age of 21 is stopped for DUI and they have the blood alcohol level .02 they can be convicted of Driving under the Influence.  What does that mean, .02?

If you are a women and weight between 100 lbs. and 220 lbs. one alcoholic drink in an hour it will make you having a reading of .02 or higher.  If you are a man and weight between 100 lbs. and 200 lbs. one alcoholic drink in an hour it will make you having a reading of .02 or higher.

If a person is convicted of DUI while under the age of 21, their license is suspended for a minimum of 30 days, required to complete drug and alcohol awareness program, fines of between $600-$2,100, plus court cost.  If that person is under the age of 18 years old there can be an additional 60-day suspension of their driver’s licenses.

Parents, Parties Teenagers and Alcohol

Some parents believe that it is okay for them to allow their teenagers and friends to drink at home.  I have heard parents say “it’s better to let them drink here than to have them driving around to parties.”  This attitude can cause the parents to have both criminal and civil problems.

It is a criminal offense to allow a person under the legal drinking age to consume alcohol.  You can be charged if an underage person is caught drinking and state that you are the person that provided it to them.  There are no exceptions for parents or legal guardians.  Under the Open House Parties Act, a person who allows a party, where there is underage drinking, to continue without taking reasonable actions to stop the party can be charged with a crime.

Civilly the parents or guardian of an underage drinker can sue you if you provided alcohol to an underage person.  There does not have to be any physical injury for the parents to sue that person responsible.

It is very important that you talk with your teenager about the impact drinking alcohol can have on their lives and the legal consequences of underage drinking.

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