Underage Alcohol Offenses (i.e. Minor Consumption, False I.D., etc.)

Been There, Done That, Right?

If we are all honest with one another, many of us have committed crimes that involved the use of alcohol when we weren’t of age to drink yet (whether we were caught or not!). That could be while we were in college or hanging out with our underage buddies at a party. In fact, many of us may have even drank when we were under eighteen (18) years old and hanging out with our high school buddies in their parent’s basement. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the perspective), it’s become a fact of life. Nevertheless, it’s illegal, and people get arrested for it all the time.

Even if you find yourself at the age where you can legally drink, did you know you can still be liable for those who are underage? For example, you may still face penalties if you play a role in minors possessing alcohol, consuming alcohol, or being present where alcohol is served/sold. So, even if you are of age, you still can be liable for a minor’s actions, even if you aren’t present at the time of consuming the alcohol!

While the penalties aren’t severe in the grand scheme of things for these types of offenses, it’s important to understand the law nonetheless (especially given the prevalence of alcohol in today’s society). The Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower can help you. Take a read and then contact us to discuss.

All the statutes that address the issue of minors and alcohol are housed in Chapter 7 of the Indiana Code, under I.C. 7.1-5-7. Below are the common charges.

USE OF FALSE OR ALTERED DRIVER’S LICENSE & POSSESSION OF FALSE I.D.:

Many of us have used our older sibling’s I.D. to either buy alcohol or enter an establishment that sells alcohol. What most people don’t realize, is that if you are caught doing it, it’s a Class C Misdemeanor — meaning you can serve a sentence of up to 60 days for it!

According to I.C. 7.1-5-7-1 & 7.1-5-7-3, it’s against the law to make false statements as to age or to present an I.D. with a fraudulent name/age on it in order to procure or attempt to procure alcohol. Even more surprising, however, is that if you use an I.D. to commit this crime, the minor’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to one (1) whole year!

ILLEGAL POSSESSION, CONSUMPTION OR TRANSPORTATION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR:

Most people have seen at least one of their friends charged with either Minor Consumption or Illegal Possession of Alcohol by a Minor. I.C. 7.1-5-7-7 addresses both, and it states that if a minor knowingly possess, consumes, or transports alcohol on a public highway without a parent, commits a Class C Misdemeanor.

Furthermore, again, if they do so while operating a vehicle, a person eighteen (18) or older can see their license suspended for up to one (1) year. If the defendant is under eighteen (18), that person can have their license suspended for up to sixty (60 days)

FURNISHING ALCOHOL TO A MINOR & INDUCING MINORS TO POSSESS ALCOHOL:

Everyone at some point in their youth had a friend (or knew a friend) whose parents would purchase alcohol for their children and their children’s friends. Back in the old days, this type of behavior was frowned upon, but little was done to enforce it.  However, with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and recent stories of young adults dying as a result of underage drinking, the legislature has ramped up the punishment.

I.C. 7.1-5-7-8 addresses this very issue. In fact, if a person “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally sell, barter, exchange, provide, or furnish” alcohol to a minor, they commit a Class B Misdemeanor — in layman’s terms, you can serve a sentence of up to 180 days. However, the offense is a Class A Misdemeanor (a potential sentence of one (1) year) if the person has a prior unrelated conviction under this statute.

Even more seriously, the act of assisting minors in obtaining/consuming alcohol can be charged as a Level 6 Felony if it can be proven that the assistance in question lead to the proximate cause of serious bodily injury or death to another person.  A Level 6 Felony has a minimum sentence of 6 months and a maximum sentence of two and a half (2 1/2) years!

Under I.C. 7.1-5-7-15, the legislature as further stated that a person twenty-one (21) years or older that encourages, aids, or induces a minor to possess alcohol commits a Class C Infraction. Though it isn’t a criminal offense, it opens the door for college parties, fraternities and sororities to be hit hard with monetary fines as well.

TAKING LIQUOR INTO A CONCERT FACILITY:

Again, with a little bit of honesty, we can almost all admit to having been drinking underage before our favorite concert venue. Be it at a Dave Matthew concert, Phish, or Miley Cyrus venue (tongue in cheek), it seems commonplace for people under the age of twenty-one (21) to both consume and sneak alcohol into music venues. Whether it is the price of booze in the concert or the fact that you’d have to have a fake I.D. to buy it, many choose to risk carrying it in.

However, concert-goers should keep in mind that carrying liquor to a public entertainment venue is a Class C Misdemeanor — again a potential sentence of sixty (60) days. Moreover, the statute goes as far as to say it is against the law to display, sell, furnish, or give it away to another person in hopes that they will bring it in for you. There are exceptions to this rule that seem to invalidate the statute as a whole, but that’s why you hire a lawyer to look into it for you!

In the end, it’s easy to see why it’s important to have a lawyer on board to help you understand the ramifications of committing alcohol-related offenses — especially those that involve minors. As former prosecutors, the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks  & Brower know how to protect your rights. Give us a call today if you find yourself in a situation described above. We will go above and beyond to make sure you are defended to the fullest extent of the law. Call us at (317) 870-0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.