Many teens drink alcohol despite the fact that it
is illegal. This creates legal, physical and other hazards that many of
them are either unaware of, or they choose to disregard. I represent many
young people every year who are charged with underage consumption. I do
not condone drinking by people under 21 – particularly binge
drinking. However, in my opinion, dealing with underage drinking is
an issue often best handled at home by responsible parents and counselors
rather than by the police or courts – and others who more likely than not have committed the exact same “crime”. These arrests result in expensive and time-consuming
consequences to the family, the innocent parent and underage (often unemployed)
Unfortunately, there are many avoidable situations where young,
naive people are arrested and charged.
According to a May 2011 Report To Congress regarding
Underage Drinking, on average, alcohol is a factor in the deaths
of approximately 4,700 youths in the United States per year.
Legally: In Ohio,
it is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to order, pay for, share the
cost of, attempt to purchase, possess, consume or be under the influence of any
alcoholic beverage. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor of the
first degree (M1).
A conviction of a first
degree misdemeanor can result in a jail term not to exceed 6 months; a fine
of up to $1,000 plus court costs; or a term of probation which may
include various requirements including – community service; random alcohol and
drug screens; maintaining full time employment; attendance
in an alcohol treatment program paid for by the defendant/juvenile. A conviction can also
result in the imposition of longer sentences on new (future) convictions.
alternative to imposing a criminal record, sometimes when an accused has no
history of prior delinquency or criminal activity, the court may order the accused
defendant into a diversion program. In many courts, a defendant is ineligible to enter
into a diversion program if they have previously been “diverted”.
While in the program, the court holds the complaint in abeyance. Upon
successful completion of the diversion, the court will dismiss the complaint
and order the defendant’s record in the case dismissed and sealed. If the
defendant fails to complete the diversion program, the court will then proceed
with prosecution or sentencing pursuant to the original Complaint.
consequence is the fact that if charged with another crime in the future, the
diversion used in the underage consumption charge makes the next charge ineligible
1. If you are under 21 years old, don’t drink
If you do
drink, don’t get arrested – typically, the first candidates to get arrested are the ones who stand out in the crowd or "mouth off" instead of shutting up.
Always be calm.
You have the right to remain silent. That right
exists before the police explain your rights. Do not tell a lie. A
polite but effective response after being pulled over and asked “Do you know
why I pulled you over?” may include, "Would you please tell me
officer?” This avoids making any admission but still gives the officer a
Determine if you're free to go. If you are, leave. In many situations a few officers arrive at a scene
where there are numerous kids. When an officer tells you to leave, do not hesitate,
do not try to discuss anything and certainly do
not argue. Just leave. What the officer
is really saying is "leave now or be arrested." The officer
will not care if you are looking for your friends. Leave. If you have been drinking, leave your car and keep on walking. Call your parents or
another adult for a ride. They might be mad for a few hours, but it is
f. Never touch an officer.
If you get arrested, identify yourself and ask for a parent
(if under 18) or attorney – and then shut up. One way to
assert your right to remain silent is to say “Officer, I have been told by my
parents/lawyer, that they must be present in a situation like this before I
answer any questions or before you can search me.” THEN BE QUIET.
Office: (513) 721-0001
Mobile: (513) 236-1204
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
The act of inquiring about representation from me does not establish a client-lawyer relationship. Your inquiry will be kept confidential, but does not obligate me to respond.