Underage alcohol offenses are frequently occurring charges in the State of Ohio. A person is considered underage if they are under 21 years old. Although underage alcohol offenses are common, they are serious criminal charges that often carry harsh penalties. A Cincinnati underage drinking attorney at Luftman, Heck & Associates can guide you through the next steps.
Underage alcohol offenses can be defined according to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC 4209.69) as any underage person (anyone under the age of 21) who knowingly orders, pays for, shares the cost of, attempts to purchase, possesses, or consumes any beer or intoxicating liquor in any public or private place. However, these conditions do not apply if the underage person is supervised by a parent, legal guardian, spouse who is not underage, or the alcohol has been provided by a doctor or is for religious purposes.
If you are charged with your first underage alcohol offense, you may be ordered to participate in a diversion program which will be specified by the court. If you have previously participated in a diversion program, you will not be eligible to participate. Upon successful completion of the diversion program, the pending charges against you will be dropped and your record will be sealed. However, if you do not complete the program, the charges will still stand and the court will proceed with further action against you.
If you are not eligible to participate in a diversion program, an underage alcohol offense conviction will result in a first-degree misdemeanor. This will charge be on your permanent criminal record, entail up to six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, a driver’s license suspension, and potentially require substance abuse counseling, alcohol education hours and community service.
In addition to fines and jail time, an underage alcohol conviction carries serious unforgiving consequences that will undoubtedly impact your future. You may face difficulty procuring student loans, joining the military, getting a job and the loss of support from family and friends.
Due to the serious nature of being convicted for an underage alcohol offense, it is imperative to consult with a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Brad Groene has years of experience in fighting these types of charges.