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November 20 2012

Tis the Season, Alcohol and Kids

We all know our children are angels, but just in case they are led astray by their friends as this holiday season fast approaches, here are some things you may want to be aware of and possibly discuss with your children.

Minor in Possession. If your son or daughter is younger than 21, they are considered a minor when it comes to alcohol. As a minor, they cannot purchase or attempt to purchase, consume or attempt to consume, or possess or attempt to possess alcohol. Penalties for a first offense include a fine up to $100, rehabilitative programs, community services, and substance abuse screening. Penalties for a second offense include imprisonment up to 30 days, a fine up to $200, rehabilitative programs, community service, screening, and license suspension. Penalties for a third or subsequent violation include imprisonment up to 60 days, a fine up to $500, rehabilitative programs, community service, screening, and license suspension.

Transporting Alcohol in Motor Vehicle by Minor. A minor cannot knowingly possess or transport alcohol in a motor vehicle, regardless of whether the alcohol is open or capped and regardless of whether the minor is the driver or an occupant. Penalties for violation include imprisonment up to 90 days, community service, and substance abuse screening and assessment. In addition, the motor vehicle may be impounded following conviction for a violation.

Using False Identification to Purchase Alcohol. A minor cannot not use fraudulent identification to purchase alcohol. Penalties for violation include imprisonment up to 93 days, a fine up to $100, and license suspension.

“Zero Tolerance”: Operating a Motor Vehicle by Minor with BAC. A minor cannot operate a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) between 0.02 and 0.08 percent or while having any alcohol present in the system resulting from the consumption of alcohol. Penalties for a first violation include a fine up to $250, community service up to 360 hours, and license suspension. Penalties for a subsequent violation include imprisonment up to 93 days, a fine up to $500, community service up to 60 days, and license suspension.

A minor who operates a motor vehicle while having a BAC of more than 0.08 percent may be charged with the more serious crime of operating while intoxicated (“OWI”). Penalties for the offense of OWI are severe and may include mandatory imprisonment and license suspension and/or revocation. A third offense is a felony and may be punished by imprisonment up to five years and a fine up to $5,000.

Furnishing Alcohol to Minors. It is illegal for someone to knowingly sell or furnish alcohol to a minor, or fail to make diligent inquiry whether a person is at least 21 years of age. Penalties for a first violation include imprisonment up to 60 days and a fine up to $1,000. Penalties for a second or subsequent violation include imprisonment up to 90 days, a fine up to $2,500, and community service.

Underage Drinking Party and Hosting a Party. As a parent, you should know that as an owner or person in control of any premises, residence, or other property you are prohibited from allowing a minor to consume or possess alcohol on or within that premises. Penalties for a first violation include imprisonment up to 30 days and a fine up to $1,000. Penalties for a second or subsequent violation include imprisonment up to 90 days and a fine up $1,000. In addition, if you or your children are charging admission to a party for the alcohol or for the cup for example, you or your children can be charged with a felony punishable up to one year and/or a $10,000 fine.

Please call your Mika Meyers’ lawyer or John T. Sperla (">616-632-8032/jsperla@mikameyers.com), Ross A. Leisman (616-632-8017/) or Andrea D. Crumback (616-632-8051/) if you have any questions.