Most students at Loyola University will drink before they turn 21. This is a fact of life on most college campuses, even though drinking under 21 is illegal. Underage drinking can cause disciplinary problems on campus and lead to expensive fines. Because of this, it is always important to talk to a lawyer if you face charges for underage drinking, especially if you face other charges for DUI or other alcohol-related offenses.
For help with your case, call our underage drinking lawyers for Loyola University students today. The Law Offices of Randolph Rice’s criminal defense lawyers may be able to help fight the charges you face and get fines dropped or reduced. For help with your case, call us today to set up a free legal consultation. Our number is (410) 694-7291.
Underage Drinking Laws in Maryland
Maryland’s underage drinking offenses are not considered “crimes” even though they are found in the criminal law section of the Maryland Code. Instead, these are considered “civil offenses.” That means that they do not go on your criminal record and cannot send you to jail, but they can still land you with an expensive fine.
Penalties for Drinking Under 21 in MD
For first time charges of drinking alcohol while under 21, you can face a fine up to $500. Any subsequent charges have a doubled maximum fine, meaning you could face up to $1,000 in fines per additional offense.
Because these charges are civil offenses, you typically cannot face other penalties or disabilities from these charges, such as losing the right to vote or own a gun. However, you could face additional disciplinary procedures at school. Since underage drinking is not allowed on campus, you could face disciplinary action if you are caught drinking alcohol in your dorm or if you are caught carrying alcohol on campus.
In some cases, your lawyer may be able to negotiate the fines and penalties you face. Judges are permitted to issue a “suspended” fine, meaning that the fine is not activated immediately. This could give you a chance to complete alcohol awareness or alcohol abuse classes in exchange for a reduced fine if the government will agree to a deal like this. Talk to a lawyer about your options.
Charges for Underage Possession and Consumption of Alcohol
Md. Code Criminal Law § 10-114 makes it illegal to consume alcohol while you are under 21, but it also makes it illegal to possess alcohol. This means that even transporting it in your car or backpack could be illegal.
There are a few different exceptions to these rules. First, you are allowed to possess alcohol if you are doing it as part of a job at a bar or restaurant. Second, you can drink alcohol as part of a religious ceremony, such as taking a sip of communion wine at church.
There is also an exception that allows people under 21 to drink at home with their parents. To take advantage of this exception, the person providing the alcohol must be a member of your immediate family – which typically means a parent or perhaps an older sibling. The alcohol must also be consumed on-premises at their house. This extends a bit into the property around the house, such as on a porch, but openly drinking alcohol by the end of the driveway or near the street might not be protected.
Fighting Underage Drinking Charges in MD
As mentioned, there are exceptions to the underage drinking laws in Maryland. These can usually help you avoid charges if you are in possession of alcohol as part of your job or if you are drinking wine for a religious purpose, and it can help avoid charges for drinking alcohol at home with your parents. However, there is another defense built into the underage drinking statute.
Under § 10-114(b)(2), a police officer cannot stop you or issue you a citation for underage consumption of alcohol unless they see you with an alcoholic beverage. This means that they could always charge you with possession of alcohol whether they see you drinking it or not, but they cannot use evidence of the smell of alcohol on your breath alone to charge you with underage drinking. Our attorneys may be able to help you fight charges on these and other grounds.
Other Charges Involving Alcohol for Loyola Students
While underage drinking by itself is not a “crime,” there are other offenses related to drinking that you could face criminal charges and criminal penalties for. First, there are other civil offenses you could face penalties for, such as charges for using a fake ID or misrepresenting your age. Some of these can carry additional penalties from the Motor Vehicle Administration.
Second, there are full-fledged crimes usually associated with alcohol. Drunk driving charges, both for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) can lead to jail time, high fines, and license suspensions. In addition, people commonly face charges for disorderly conduct, assault, sexual assault, and other offenses committed while drunk.
If you do face any other charges in conjunction with alcohol charges, our lawyers may be able to help you fight those charges alongside the underage drinking charges.
Call Our Underage Drinking Attorney for Loyola Students to Schedule a Free Legal Consultation
If you or your child was charged with underage drinking while attending Loyola University, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. Our criminal defense lawyers represent Loyola students on underage drinking charges and other criminal charges in Maryland. For help fighting the charges against you and getting penalties dropped or reduced, call our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation. Our phone number is (410) 694-7291.