Juvenile drinking has become a very common problem. Statistics show that over 4,300 juveniles die each year due to excessive drinking, and they drink more per sitting than adults. The courts have consequences in place for minors found in possession of alcohol, although rehabilitation and a second chance are often the focus.
If a person under 21 is in possession of alcohol, it may lead to a citation for ownership, possession or control of an alcoholic beverage. If you are facing these charges, it is important to know what the next steps for your case may be.
Evidence of the charge
For a minor to face charges for possession or consumption of alcohol, police need to provide evidence that supports their suspicions. Possession usually constitutes holding an alcoholic beverage in your hand; however, constructive possession may go forward as a case if minors had alcohol readily available and there is evidence to support the claim. In Texas, if the juvenile’s parents, guardians or adult spouse are present, it is not prohibited for minors to possess or consume alcohol.
Penalties for possession charges
Juveniles in possession of alcohol may face a charge of Possession of Alcohol by a Minor. The charges are commonly a Class C misdemeanor offense, which includes a fine of up to $500. Additional penalties may include:
- Up to 12 hours of community service
- An alcohol education class
- Driver’s license suspension for 30 days
Penalties for DWI charges
If a juvenile drove while consuming alcohol, the charges increase drastically. The number of offenses has a significant impact on the punishments a minor may face. The following are potential penalties:
- A first offense is a Class B misdemeanor and includes a fine of up to $2,000, jail time for 72 hours to 180 days and a suspended driver’s license.
- A second offense is a Class A misdemeanor and includes up to $4,000, jail time for 30 to 365 days and a suspended driver’s license.
- A third offense changes the charge to a felony. The penalties may include a fine up to $10,000, as many as 10 years in prison and a driver’s license suspension.