Richmond Underarge Drinking Lawyer

Have you or your son or daughter been arrested for underage drinking or possession of alcohol in Richmond, Virginia? Don’t let a simple mistake impact your future. An experienced Richmond underage drinking attorney can help you deal with the charges and aggressively pursue a more favorable outcome that protects your freedom and future.

Turn to Upton Law, PLLC, for help in facing your underage drinking charges. Attorney Samantha Upton understands the anxiety and stress that a criminal charge for underage drinking can cause. You can trust that Samantha will provide you with a straightforward assessment of your rights and options and can offer legal strategies to try to resolve your charges.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial case review to learn how a Richmond underage drinking attorney can help you or your son or daughter pursue a favorable outcome in an underage drinking case.

Underage Drinking Laws in Richmond, Virginia

Virginia law makes it a crime for a person under 21 to possess or consume alcohol. The law also prohibits efforts to purchase or acquire alcohol while underage, such as having a fake ID.

Virginia law also has strict laws for underage drinking and driving. Virginia is considered a “zero-tolerance” state for underage DUI. Even having a tiny amount of alcohol in the bloodstream can result in an underage motorist being charged with DUI.

Underage Possession of Alcohol Penalties in Richmond, Virginia

Underage possession of alcohol in Richmond is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

A Conviction for Underage Possession Can Carry Various Penalties, Including:

  • Incarceration – The court may impose a sentence of detention of up to 12 months in jail.
  • Fines – A conviction carries a mandatory minimum fine of $500, which can be increased to up to $2,500 in the court’s discretion.
  • Community service – As an alternative to fines, a sentence for an underage alcohol possession conviction may require performing at least 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation.
  • Random testing – If a person convicted of underage possession or drinking obtains a restricted driver’s license after having their license suspended, they will be subject to monitoring by an alcohol safety action program or supervision by a community-based probation services agency.
  • Loss of driving privileges – If between the ages of 18 and 20, an offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for a period of six months to one year. If under the age of 18, license privileges will be suspended for six months. Someone under the age of 16 years and three months will have their ability to apply for a driver’s license deferred for six months after reaching the age of 16 years and three months.
  • Permanent criminal record – Finally, a conviction for underage drinking or possession of alcohol will leave you with a permanent criminal record that can show up on background checks for employment, housing, licensing, and admission to educational programs. You may become eligible to seek an expungement of your record, which has the effect of removing your record from public view. Your record will still be accessible to law enforcement, judicial, and corrections agencies.
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How a Richmond Underage Drinking Attorney Can Help with Your Case

Virginia has specific laws about underage drinking, underage possession, and underage DUI, any of which could result in a serious charge. It’s important to choose an attorney who has experience with these types of cases and who understands the options available to reduce a minor’s charges, such as entering an alcohol treatment program in place of facing a conviction.

A skilled underage drinking attorney will work to defend your future and help you avoid the negative impacts of a criminal conviction.  

Some of the Most Common Alcohol-Related Offenses That Underage Individuals Are Arrested for Include

  • Common college student offenses, such as underage drinking, disorderly conduct, or being noticeably drunk on campus. 
  • Minor in possession, or an individual under the age of 21 possessing alcoholic beverages for personal consumption.
  • Possession of fake ID, or the possession of an altered, facsimile, fictitious, or simulated driver’s license, identification card, or birth certificate with the intent to establish a false identity or age to purchase or consume alcohol.
  • DUI, which for a person under 21 begins at a BAC of 0.02 percent. If an underage motorist has a BAC of 0.08 or more, they can also be charged with standard DUI.
  • Alcohol on school grounds, since colleges and universities may have policies prohibiting underage possession of alcohol on school grounds. Violation of these policies may result in a student’s suspension or expulsion. In addition, Virginia law makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to possess or consume alcohol on elementary or secondary school grounds during school hours or school activities. 

Virginia Code Section 4.1-305 Underage Possession of Alcohol

Virginia Code §4.1-305 codifies the state law against underage possession or consumption of alcohol in Richmond, Virginia. The law exempts possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21 only as part of that person’s employment, or on the order of their parent or guardian, or by a law enforcement officer in the course of their duties, or a few other exceptions such as medicines, antiseptics, and food.

The state also prohibits individuals under 21 from possessing a fake ID or another certificate of identification to purchase or consume alcohol. Any alcohol purchased or possess in violation of the statute is considered contraband and can be seized by law enforcement and forfeited to the commonwealth. Liquor stores, bars, restaurants, and other establishments that notify law enforcement of suspected violations of the statute are also afforded immunity from administrative penalties.

The statute allows individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 who face a first-time charge under the statute to obtain a deferral of the proceedings and be placed on probation, successful completion of which will result in dismissal of the charges without an adjudication of guilt.

What Happens If You Get Caught Drinking Under 21 in Richmond, Virginia?

If you get caught drinking under the age of 21 in Richmond, you can immediately be arrested by police for violation of Virginia Code §4.1-305. Any alcohol found in your possession will be confiscated and deemed forfeited.

If you are convicted for underage drinking, you may face various criminal penalties that, at a minimum, will include fines or community service and suspension of driving privileges. In the court’s discretion, you might even be sentenced to time in jail.

The resulting criminal record may result in long-lasting consequences such as being expelled from school, losing scholarships or other grants, and having difficulty obtaining employment and housing.

How a Richmond Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer Can Help

Following an arrest for underage drinking or possession of alcohol, a Richmond underage drinking defense lawyer from Upton Law, PLLC, can help by:

  • Advising you about the consequences of a conviction on your charges and offering an honest assessment of the possible outcomes in your case.
  • Investigating the underlying facts and circumstances of your arrest and charges to identify potential defenses.
  • Advocating on your behalf to pursue the most favorable outcome to your charges, such as getting you into an alternative disposition program that may allow you to avoid a finding of guilty.
  • Vigorously defending your rights and interests throughout the case while treating you with the compassion and respect that you deserve and need during the uncertainty of facing a criminal charge.

If you have been charged with an underage drinking offense, or if your child has been arrested for underage drinking or possession of alcohol in Richmond, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. Don’t wait to discuss your legal rights and options for facing your charges with a knowledgeable Richmond criminal defense lawyer.

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