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It’s not uncommon for underage kids to get their hands on alcohol despite the clear laws limiting consumption to individuals who are 21 and older. In Ohio, the offense of consuming alcohol as a minor is called underage consumption and applies in any situation where a minor has a blood alcohol content of 0.2 or greater. The police have the authority to administer a blood alcohol test in any instance where they have a reasonable suspicion that underage alcohol consumption has occurred, including situations that do not involve the operation of a motor vehicle. Dedicated and experienced Cleveland criminal defense attorney A. Dale Naticchia has seen just how devastating an underage drinking charge can be for a minor, which is why he fights zealously on their behalf to pursue a fair outcome and ensure that the authorities are adhering to the law. With clients located throughout Akron and other areas of Cuyahoga County, we are prepared to put our experience to use for you and your family during this stressful time.Ohio Underage Alcohol Consumption Laws
Ohio treats underage drinking as a very serious crime. Anyone under the age of 21 can face penalties for possessing or consuming alcohol. The first offense for possessing or consuming alcohol is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. This is a lengthy jail sentence for a minor and judges don’t always sentence a defendant to the maximum time, but a judge can still choose to make an example out of a young person. The unpredictable nature of these outcomes is another reason to have a seasoned defense attorney on your side.
When the underage drinking event takes place in a motor vehicle, the violation can be more severe. The underage drinker can have his or her license suspended if blood alcohol tests indicate that his or her BAC is in excess of the 0.2 allowance. There is also the possibility of a $250 fine and 30 days in jail. Further, the minor faces a mandatory 90-day suspension of his or her license. In order to have the license reinstated, he or she must pay hefty fees.
If the minor incurs additional underage alcohol consumption charges, then these fines and penalties increase. The first offense does provide certain opportunities for alternative sentencing, including a diversion program. There are also special considerations to take into account when the alcohol consumption takes place on school property. Because of the optics involved with this type of infraction, school authorities tend to react harshly so that parents are satisfied with the response and to deter other students from making a similar decision.
Additionally, if a student is caught with alcohol on campus it will almost always be noted in their academic record, which can jeopardize their chances of obtaining admission to a college or sports program. If they were hoping for a scholarship then they may need to plan otherwise. Under Ohio law, the student will be suspended until the school holds an expulsion hearing that could result in an 80 day expulsion from school not including weekends and holidays. Ohio schools have adopted zero tolerance policies to underage consumption, which often means that the student will lose an entire academic year and fall behind. Colleges have adopted slightly different policies that vary from campus to campus, but which still carry serious consequences.Underage Consumption Exemptions in Ohio
In Ohio, a minor can consume alcohol if he or she is with his or her parents and the parents consent to their minor children consuming alcohol. A minor can also be exempted from these penalties if he or she is married to someone who is 21 years or older or if the alcohol is being consumed for a medical, religious, or educational purpose. These rules seem fairly straightforward but things can get messy when parents allow their minor children’s friends to also consume alcohol. Ohio laws clearly prohibit parents from allowing minors who aren’t their biological or adopted children from consuming alcohol. It can be so tempting to look the other way at family gatherings or parties, but the outcome can be devastating for everyone involved. Circumstances can escalate quickly and the parents may not be able to control what the minor does when he or she leaves the premises.Retain a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer in Cleveland
If your child is facing an underage consumption charge, it is critical that you start learning about your rights and options as soon as possible. We know just how stressful this situation can be and how much disruption it can bring to your household. Even if your child is a stellar student who made one wrong decision, it can have a devastating impact on their future. A skilled attorney in our office is available to provide legal guidance to minors and families throughout Cleveland, Parma, Berea, Rocky River, Bedford, Garfield Heights, Stow, and Barberton. Contact us online or call us at 216-520-5297 to set up your free consultation.