Underage Drinking

Underage DrinkingThere are a variety of alcohol offenses in Maryland, and the possible penalties for violations of these laws range from civil fines all the way to jail time.  Most alcohol related offenses outside of DUI and DWI do not carry jail sentences upon a finding of guilt, but this does not mean they should be taken lightly.  Citations for one of these offenses could seem like a small inconvenience at first, but if they not handled properly these seemingly harmless tickets could end up having a permanent impact on a person’s future.  The most common alcohol citations are those issued to minors and adults under the age of 21.  Underage possession of alcohol is prohibited in all state jurisdictions unless the alcohol was provided by an adult immediate family member inside of a private residence.  Any violation of this provision will result in a civil citation with a mandatory court appearance.   If he or she does not show up for court the clerk will issue a summons for contempt of court or even an arrest warrant.  The maximum fine for a minor in possession of alcohol is $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for repeat offenders, but the underage defendant also faces the possibility of being placed on probation by a district court judge.  Failure to pay the fine could result in the defendant being held in criminal contempt of court.  Although the citation is considered a civil matter, the probation term is treated the same way as a state criminal case.  In addition, a person who is convicted of this offense faces the possibility of a permanent record of guilt to a civil violation.  This outcome that could have a negative effect on a minor’s future employment and educational prospects, which is reason enough to make sure the case is handled by an attorney.

Other common alcohol related citations include misrepresentation of age, which often occurs after a minor tries to purchase alcohol from a bar or liquor store.  The misrepresentation can be something as little as a person stating that he or she is 21 and old enough to buy liquor.  If the minor uses a fake ID to try to buy alcohol, he or she faces the possibility of being issued a citation for false documentation.  A conviction for false documentation may result in the motor vehicle administration being notified.  The MVA could then impose their own sanctions such as the suspension of driving privileges, or prohibiting the defendant from obtaining a driver license or learner’s permit.  Both misrepresentation of age and false documentation are civil violations, but if not handled properly can result in large fines, probation, license suspensions, and the possibility of a permanent violation being listed in the public record.  These cases are common at concert venues such as Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County and at bars in Ocean City, College Park and Baltimore. Benjamin Herbst is an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney who handles cases in all Maryland courts.  He understands the potential impacts that even a civil violation can have on a person’s life, especially on minors and young adults with bright futures.  He will do whatever it takes to try to have the violation dismissed prior to or on the court date so that it may be expunged from the public record.  Contact Benjamin to discuss your case or your minor’s case anytime at 410-207-2598.
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