Some of the most common criminal charges for people under the age of 21 involve underage drinking. In Ohio and elsewhere throughout the United States, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcoholic beverages. Ohio takes allegations of underage drinking and driving seriously, so if you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with an underage drinking and driving crime it is important that they have an experienced criminal defense attorney by their side. Call or contact Comunale Law today to schedule a consultation of your case.
Purchasing, Possessing, or Consuming Alcohol
Generally speaking, Ohio law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol as well as from being under the influence of alcohol in public spaces. Common charges for this type of criminal act include consumption and possession of alcohol by a minor.
In addition to the initial underage drinking charge, prosecutors may also charge additional crimes. Examples commonly include disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, vandalism, and falsification.
Conviction for underage drinking crimes is considered a first degree misdemeanor offense in Ohio. Penalties can include up to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000, court costs and fees, alcohol counseling, community service, and probation. This conviction goes on a person’s criminal record that will show up on background checks for jobs, employment, and housing.
Underage DUI and OVI
If an underage person is suspected of consuming alcohol and driving, they may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI). The blood alcohol content threshold for adults ages twenty-one years old or older is 0.08%, but for any driver younger the threshold is lowered considerably to 0.02%. Like other underage drinking offenses, prosecutors may also charge a person accused of underage DUI or OVI with additional crimes, such as underage consumption.
Conviction of a first-time underage DUI or OVI in Ohio is considered a fourth degree misdemeanor offense. This includes penalties of up to 30 days in jail, fines up to $250, probation, drug or alcohol treatment, and a mandatory driver’s license suspension between 90 days and two years in addition to the possible installation of an ignition interlock device. If an underage driver is convicted of a second DUI or OVI before their 21st birthday, the penalties increase to a jail term up to 60 days, fines up to $500, probation, drug or alcohol treatment, mandatory driver’s license suspension between one and five years, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Call or Contact Our Office
A conviction for underage DUI and other alcohol-related crimes can have a substantial impact on a person’s life, but it does not have to ruin yours. To learn more about your legal options after an arrest, call or contact Comunale Law today to schedule a consultation of your case.