When Facing an Underage Drinking Charge, Understand the Law

An Underage Drinking Charge Doesn’t Have to Complicate Your Future. Know the Laws and Your Rights!

It’s undeniable that underage drinking is commonplace. Teenagers and young adults often experiment with alcohol as they approach adulthood, and although it’s common enough, there are laws in place to discourage underage drinking. If your child is facing an underage drinking charge, there are things you can do to help make sure their record isn’t tainted for the rest of their life. Read on to learn about underage drinking laws in Massachusetts, and how a top law firm can help protect your child’s future.

Contact Murphy and Rudolf, LLP today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers to discuss the details of the underage drinking charge your child is facing, and learn how we can help: (508) 570-3037.

What Are the Laws Surrounding Underage Drinking in Massachusetts?

According to the American Addictions Centre, 29% of minors between 12 and 21 consume alcohol in Massachusetts. That’s one of the highest rates in the country.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink, handle or transport alcohol. One might think this statement would be the tell-all for underage drinking laws in Massachusetts, but it gets a little more complicated from there. There are some exceptions.

Here is a brief outline to help you understand where you might have gone wrong and the legal consequences of underage drinking.

  • It is illegal to sell or provide alcohol to a minor in Massachusetts. This includes restaurants and bars. Doing so, or selling to an adult with the intention of providing it to a minor, can result in a fine of up to $2000 and other sanctions.
  • Any minor attempting to purchase alcohol can be charged up to $300 and have a license suspension for 180 days.
  • Using a “fake ID” in Massachusetts can result in a charge of up to $200 and 3 months in jail. Making a fake ID will result in a similar punishment.
  • A minor may not hold or transport alcohol unless they are between the ages of 18-21 and the transportation of alcohol is part of their job. The minor must knowingly be transferring alcohol in order to be charged. For example, carrying an adult’s suitcase while unaware of a bottle of wine inside is not punishable by law. The first offense for carrying alcohol is $50 and $150 for subsequent charges. An arrest can result in a 90-day license suspension.

Can minors drink with their parents in Massachusetts?

Yes, a minor may drink alcohol provided to them by a parent or grandparent in a home that they own. They may also purchase alcohol for the minor to drink in their private home. It is illegal, however, for adults to purchase alcohol for their underage children within a restaurant or other public establishment or private event.

What if an underage person throws a private party in their home?

Under civil law, “social host liability” means that any person providing or controlling the number of alcoholic beverages consumed at a private party or event is liable for any damages caused. If the host has not provided the alcohol, then assumingly they are not held liable. The criminal court will be different if charges of any sort are laid. And, remember, any adult providing alcohol to minors (who are not their children) in their home is illegal.

Don’t Let an Underage Drinking Charge Ruin Your Child’s Future

If convicted of an underage drinking charge, it is possible to have the record of the minor sealed so that it is no longer visible to the public. However, a sealed record can still be accessed by some agencies. Although there may be a waiting period, most convictions of this type can be sealed.

Another option is having the record expunged which completely wipes the record clean. The law allows expungement if the offense took place before the minor’s 21st birthday. However, expungement is not offered to those charged with sex offenses, offenses against an elderly person, a restraining order violation, an OUI, or those with subsequent court appearances on their record.

Whether your child has already been convicted or is facing an underage drinking charge, Murphy and Rudolf, LLP can help. Reach out for a conversation with one of our experienced attorneys today: (508) 570-3037.

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