Drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is a criminal offense and can lead to charges that can affect a young person’s future. Unfortunately, many young adults and teens do not take this charge as seriously as they should. It is more than just a slap on the wrist if you are convicted of Under 21 Alcohol Consumption or Minor in Consumption– you could face fines, jail time, probation, driver’s license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. It is important to understand the penalties of this charge and how you can fight to have a Minor in Consumption charge reduced or dismissed.
Alcohol Laws Pertaining to Minors
If you are under the age of 21 in Arizona, you are not allowed to publicly drink alcohol or even possess alcohol except for medical or religious purposes. While the law allows minors to enter establishments that serve alcohol if they are with a parent or guardian over the age of 21, they are not allowed to consume alcohol while in the establishment. In fact, Arizona laws are extremely strict on minor alcohol charges, with zero-tolerance for any type of possession or use of alcohol in minors. Some of the charges that are given to minors in alcohol-related arrests include:
- Minor in Possession (MIP): The person under 21 is in possession of alcohol; the bottle, can, or container does not even need to be open for this charge to apply.
- Minor in Consumption (MIC): Any consumption of alcohol by a person under 21 in public.
- Under 21 DUI: Any alcohol consumption while driving can lead to a DUI charge. Minors do not need to be over the .08% BAC to receive a DUI in Arizona.
Penalties for Under 21 Alcohol Consumption
Any alcohol-related charge for those under 21 should be taken seriously. While it may be common for young adults and teens to experiment with alcohol, it is still a criminal offense that can stay on a record for the rest of their lives. Penalties for being convicted of publicly consuming alcohol under the age of 21 in Arizona can include:
- Community service
- Up to two years’ suspension of driver’s license
- Jail time
- Misdemeanor criminal charge on permanent record
If the minor was driving, there are even more serious consequences they can face above and beyond an MIP or MIC.
Fighting a Minor Alcohol-Related Charge
If you have been arrested or charged with an MIP, MIC, or other under-age alcohol charge in Arizona, you need to consider hiring a lawyer. A conviction can have immediate and long-term effects. If you are in school, it could impact your enrollment. Many schools have policies against alcohol-related offenses that can lead to expulsion. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will need to admit this when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime in the future. This could prevent you from obtaining employment or qualifying for many applications that require a background check.
Often, a group of minors will all be charged with MIPs or MICs, but the ones who hire an attorney receive lower penalties than those who go it alone. Matthew Lopez is an experienced personal defense attorney who can help you or your child fight an under-21 alcohol charge. Mr. Lopez will closely scrutinize your case to find any leverage to have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Free Consultations for Under 21 Alcohol Consumption Cases
If you or your child have been charged with an MIP, MIC, under-21 DUI or other minor alcohol charge, give the team at Matthew Lopez Law in Tempe, AZ, a call. We offer free consultations and will be happy to evaluate your case and advise you on how to proceed. Contact our office at 602-980-1987, day or night, to schedule your consultation.