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What Are Possible Alcohol Charges for Minors in Tennessee?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Anderson County juvenile defense attorney

It is fairly well-known that the legal drinking age is 21, making the consumption of alcohol for anyone under this age limit illegal. This has been the legal drinking age in the United States since 1984, when President Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, increasing the legal age from 18 to 21. Since this age limit exists, there are numerous other criminal charges that can be tied to underage drinking. It is important to understand the possible charges that your child may be facing to ensure that you can address these issues and determine the best strategies for defense.

The Various Offenses in Detail

Minors and alcohol are a bad mix, especially in the eyes of the law. What many teens fail to recognize is that they can face legal consequences even if they are not the ones drinking. The following are some of the charges Tennessee minors can face when alcohol is involved:

  1. Minor in Possession: If a minor is found with alcohol, he or she could face criminal charges. Some states give exceptions for minors who consume alcohol under the supervision of adult family members; however, this is not the case in Tennessee. All minors are prohibited from possession of alcohol, regardless of the individuals who are present.

  2. Purchase of Alcohol: The purchase of alcohol by a minor is also illegal. While this may seem obvious, this includes more than just the minors themselves. Any minors using fake IDs to purchase alcohol can face severe consequences, and anyone attempting to buy alcohol for minors may also face criminal charges. Purchasing alcohol for minors is known as “furnishing” by the law.

  3. Internal Possession: There is a technical divide between consumption and internal possession. Demonstrating consumption requires seeing the minor physically drinking alcohol, whereas internal possession refers to the detection of alcohol in the individual’s system. This may be done through breathalyzer tests. In the state of Tennessee, internal possession is not explicitly prohibited. This is a defensive tactic that many criminal defense attorneys may attempt to use in court. 

  4. Drinking and Driving: Regardless of a person's age, driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal across all 50 states. However, consequences for minors are often more serious and can negatively impact their futures. Minors found driving under the influence will have their driver’s license suspended for a year, taking away all driving privileges. They may also be ordered to pay costly fines.

  5. Alcohol and Employment: Age restrictions exist for those who work in an environment that sells alcohol. These may include restaurants or stores that sell alcoholic beverages. In Tennessee, servers, bartenders, and retailers must be at least 18 years old to sell alcohol.

Call a Knoxville, TN Criminal Defense Lawyer

It is not uncommon for minors to drink alcohol even though they are underage, yet many do not recognize the serious consequences that can come along with it. Underage drinking may not seem like a serious offense, but those who are caught in the act may experience damage to their future academic and professional opportunities. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney, understands that minors make mistakes, and he will build a strong defense so your child can have a second chance at a clean record. If your child is facing any charges involving alcohol, contact our diligent Blount County juvenile defense attorney today at 865-281-1000 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/underage-drinking/state-profiles/tennessee/94

https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/tennessee-alcohol-laws-wise-to-learn/

https://www.boston.com/culture/health/2014/07/17/why-21-a-look-at-our-nations-drinking-age

 

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