Underage Drinking

Under Age Drinking Charges In Columbus And Central Ohio

Underage alcohol consumption and/or possession is one of the most common criminal charges for young people in Ohio. Knowing that it’s common, however, does not help that young person facing punishment in court and a tarnished record. If you hope to avoid or reduce those consequences and protect your record, contact a criminal defense attorney that regularly represents clients charged with underage drinking offenses.

Enforcement Of Under Age Drinking Laws In Ohio

Law enforcement has little tolerance for underage drinking. If you are under 21 and get caught possessing or consuming alcohol in public, expect the law to be enforced, even on college campuses. For example, there is increased police presence and strict enforcement of underage drinking laws on the days of football games at The Ohio State University. Other universities have similar programs on their campuses that include prosecution for underage drinking offenses that occur in the homes of sororities and fraternities. An isolated incident due to a lapse in judgment can easily become a criminal case with significant consequences.

Under Age Drinking Leads To Various Charges

Underage drinking is known by multiple titles in Ohio, including “underage alcohol consumption”, “underage alcohol possession”, “prohibition”, “underage intoxication”, “offense involving underage persons”, and “certain acts prohibited”. Ohio law generally prohibits people under age 21 from purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol. The law also makes it illegal for underage persons to be under the influence of alcohol in a public place. Cities throughout Ohio also have similar laws prohibiting the purchase, possession and consumption of alcohol for people under 21. People charged with underage drinking offenses are sometimes also charged with additional offenses. For example if your behavior is alarming or annoying, you may be charged with Disorderly Conduct. If you gave false information, you may be charged with Falsification or Obstructing Official Business.

Penalties For Under Age Drinking Violations

Ohio law classifies underage drinking as a first degree misdemeanor. The potential sentence for an underage drinking conviction includes a potential jail term up to six months, a fine up to $1,000 plus court costs, alcohol counseling, community service, and probation. In addition, a conviction is a permanent criminal record that may affect a person’s education and employment opportunities.

Strategies For Defense Of Ohio Underage Drinking Charges

There are essentially two strategies for defending a client charged with underage drinking in Columbus and central Ohio, and we pursue both strategies. First, we investigate the availability of a diversion program. If a client is accepted into a diversion program and completes it successfully, the case is dismissed without a conviction, and the records for the case can be sealed (expunged). Second, we obtain the evidence the prosecuting attorney intends to introduce, evaluate the strength of that evidence, and pursue potential defenses to the charge. If a diversion program is not an option, or if a client opts not to participate in a diversion program, we plead Not Guilty and defend against the underage drinking charge through the court process. The court process may include pretrial hearings, hearings on motions to suppress evidence, and a trial. In all cases, we seek the best possible outcome for underage drinking charges from both a legal perspective and a treatment perspective.

Representation For Underage Drinking In Columbus And Central Ohio

As a criminal defense attorney since 1997, I have represented many clients, including several students, charged with underage drinking offenses in Franklin County, Delaware County, mayor’s courts, and other courts in the central Ohio area. In most cases, we are able to get the underage drinking charges dismissed or reduced, and we are often able to get the records for the case sealed (expunged).

For more information about me, please see my profile, and for more information about my practice, please read the firm overview. You can also see what clients say and review my past case results. I charge flat fees for representation in underage drinking cases, so you will know the total fee before my representation begins. If you would like to discuss how I can help with an underage drinking case, EMAIL ME or call me at 614-717-1177 to arrange a free consultation.

Also see: Underage DUI / OVI