Columbus Underage Drinking Attorney
Few Ohio students leave high school without drinking alcohol at least once, and the consumption of beer, wine, and liquor on the many college campuses across the Buckeye State is legendary or infamous, depending on your perspective. These realities can become problematic for teens and their parents, because only people over the age of 21 can legally buy alcohol or consume it outside their own home. Most youngsters who do not drink and drive usually face only minor penalties when charged with violating a provision of the awkwardly, yet ominously, named § 4301.69 of the Ohio Revised Code, Liquor Control Laws: Underage Persons Offenses Concerning. However, businesses and adults who provide illicit alcohol can end up jailed, fined, and sued for monetary damages.
Many Ways to Violate Ohio’s Drinking Age Laws
In addition to generally prohibiting alcohol consumption by high school students and a majority of college-aged residents, state law makes it illegal for:
- Individuals younger than 18 to sell beer, wine, or liquor in a store
- Individuals younger than 19 to serve beer, wine, or liquor in a restaurant
- Individuals younger than 21 to work as bartenders serving anything other than beer
- People to produce, sell, share, possess, or present false identification (i.e., a fake driver’s license)
- Anyone to knowingly accept false identification as proof of age
- Individuals younger than 21 to drive while having a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher; the legal BAC limit for everyone else is .08
- Anyone to sell alcohol to a minor
- Anyone other than a parent or spouse to give alcohol to a child or teen
- Anyone to host a party where teens drink alcohol
Penalties for Underage Drinking Can Be Serious
The majority of alcohol-related offense for teens carry maximum penalties of up to 30 days in jail and fines of as much as $250. More serious are the consequences of operating a vehicle under the influence. An OVI conviction for anyone younger than 21 comes with a mandatory license suspension of at least 90 days and a fine that starts at $250. Jail terms of a month or more, as well as mandatory attendance at alcohol education and safe courses, are also not uncommon for underage drunk drivers.
The people with the most to worry about when it comes to running afoul of Ohio’s drinking age laws are business owners and parents. A store, restaurant, or bar that serves teens can lose its license to operate, the managers can be ordered to pay criminal fines in addition to those levied against the business, and criminal and civil liability can result from injuries incurred by or caused by drunken customers. That last consequence stems from something called the dram shop law, with “dram” being the old measure for a shot of liquor. You can read more about Ohio’s dram shop law here.
Parents who host parties during which their children’s friends drink are also subject to this law. What that means is spelled out in a brochure titled Parents Who Host Lose the Most:
- You can face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Others can sue you if you give alcohol to anyone under 21 and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt him or herself, or damage property.
- Officers can take any alcohol, money or personal property used in conjunction with the offense.
Do Not Brush off Underage Consumption Charges
Even a misdemeanor conviction on an alcohol-related charge can create serious problems. Fees for court-ordered education and diversion programs can far exceed criminal fines, and having to disclose to potential employers and colleges that you have violated even a relatively minor statute can close off significant opportunities. Parents and business owners accused of underage consumption offenses, in particular, need the advice and assistance of a defense attorney at Leist Warner because the financial consequences of a conviction can be severe.
Lawyers with the Columbus-based criminal defense law firm Leist Warner know how to handle cases involving minors and alcohol. Contact us by calling (614) 222-1000 or by filling out this web form and request a no-cost case evaluation today.