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Understanding underage drinking laws in New York

The consequences of underage drinking in New York can be significant and can threaten a minor’s education, personal and professional future. Because of the serious consequences of underage drinking charges in New York, it is important that the underage drinking laws in the state are well known and understood.

In general, it is illegal for individuals in New York state who are under the age of 21 to possess alcohol with the intent to consume the alcohol. Individuals accused of underage drinking may face penalties including a fine, drug and alcohol education and mandatory community service work. New York state also has a zero tolerance law for minors under the age of 21 who are accused of drinking and driving. For smaller amounts of alcohol, minors accused of drinking while driving may lose their driver’s license for 6 months to a year. For more significant amounts of alcohol, driving while intoxicated laws may apply and minors may face jail time.

There are some exceptions to the minor in possession rules in New York, including if the alcohol was supplied to the minor by a parent or guardian. This small exception, however, does not apply to minors accused of drinking and driving. There can be a variety of what may seem like unforeseen consequences that may arise following an underage drinking charge. As is true of any criminal charges, minors accused of possessing alcohol with the intent to consume it in New York have the right to present a defense to the accusations and charges they are facing.

Each criminal defense opportunity is based on the unique circumstances surrounding the charges the accused party is facing. Because of this, it is helpful to be familiar with the specific charges, such as underage drinking charges, to better inform a strong and effective criminal defense strategy that focuses on preserving the accused party’s future.

Source: New York State, “Alcohol and Your Child, Information Every Parent Should Know,” Accessed Jan. 14, 2015