An underage drinking charge in Baltimore, such as DUI under 21, can wreak legal and academic havoc on a young person’s life. Not only may he or she be facing fines, license suspension, and other court-ordered penalties – there can also be consequences at the academic level. For example, a college student may be suspended, expelled, removed from campus, or face loss of eligibility for student loans and financial aid, along with various clubs and activities.
If your son or daughter is under 21 and was charged with an offense involving alcohol, such as public intoxication or driving under the influence, your family needs aggressive legal representation to protect your child’s reputation and future. Randolph Rice has more than a decade of experience fighting felony and misdemeanor charges, representing minors in juvenile court, and advocating for college students at school disciplinary hearings. If you need help dealing with an underage drinking arrest or citation in Baltimore, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online, or call (410) 694-7291 for a free legal consultation.
Underage Drinking Laws in Maryland
Maryland’s laws against underage drinking can be found in state statutes, municipal codes, and, in cases involving high school or college students, various academic policies. State law broadly prohibits the purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol by any person who is below the legal drinking age of 21 years. By default, this automatically includes all minors, meaning individuals who are under age 18. In addition to the consumption or possession of alcohol under age 21, which is a civil rather than criminal offense, related alcohol violations include DUI under 21, public intoxication under 21, and possession of a fake ID.
When Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult for Underage Drinking?
Like other states, Maryland has two parallel justice systems: a criminal justice system for adults, which is comprised of district courts, and a juvenile justice system for minors, which is comprised of juvenile courts. With some exceptions, juvenile courts generally have “jurisdiction,” or authority, over cases involving minors. For example, if a 16-year-old or 17-year-old is charged with DUI, he or she will generally go to juvenile court instead of being prosecuted in district court.
This is significant for defendants and their families, because juvenile courts tend to hand down more lenient, rehabilitation-oriented penalties than the adult courts. That being said, penalties for underage drinking can be severe, as the section below discusses.
Though uncommon, there are a few situations in which a minor can be tried as an adult despite being under the age of 18. For example, this might occur if:
- An allegedly drunk underage driver caused fatalities or serious injuries
- Related, more serious charges are being filed in connection with the same incident, such as charges involving sexual assault, extensive destruction of property, or hazing that led to a death or serious injury
Maryland Penalties for DUI Under 21 and Related Offenses
If you are below age 18, your case will generally be heard in juvenile court, unless certain exceptions apply. Juvenile courts typically impose penalties such as fines and community service, but place a heavy emphasis on counseling and treatment, with various conferences and hearings to check on the individual’s progress. The Maryland DMV can also suspend your driver’s license.
If you are 18, 19, or 20 years of age, you are considered a legal adult, even though you are still below the legal drinking age. Therefore, you will be tried as an adult, and may face criminal penalties accordingly. That generally means higher fines, and in some cases, even being sentenced to jail, placed under house arrest, or placed on probation. You may also lose your license for a certain number of months or years.
While the penalties for felonies are more serious than those for misdemeanors, a conviction of or arrest for either can lead to a criminal record, which can create serious difficulties when you are applying for jobs, loans, or housing. Even in a civil case, such as a juvenile case, there can be serious ramifications for the student’s academic career. Therefore, it is important to obtain the services of an experienced defense lawyer for underage drinking charges in Baltimore, like attorney Randolph Rice.
Student Disciplinary Hearings for Alcohol Violations
There are numerous public and private universities and colleges in Baltimore and the surrounding region. Examples include:
- Baltimore City Community College
- Community College of Baltimore County
- Coppin State University
- Goucher College
- Johns Hopkins University
- Loyola University
- Maryland Institute College of Art
- Morgan State University
- Notre Dame of Maryland University
- University of Baltimore
- University of Maryland
These and other schools broadly prohibit their students from violating city, county, or state laws, which of course includes laws involving alcohol. Codes of student conduct also tend to contain their own provisions banning the purchase or use of alcohol by underage students. Students who allegedly violate these codes may be investigated, required to attend hearings, and ultimately, face serious sanctions (penalties) such as suspension or expulsion.
Baltimore Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer
Get serious about protecting your son or daughter from underage drinking charges in Maryland. For a free legal consultation, call Baltimore underage DUI lawyer Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291, or contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online.