In 1984, the United States passed the Uniform Drinking Age Act to mandate that all states raise the drinking age from 18 to 21. In compliance, the state of Massachusetts raised the legal drinking age in 1985. Since the change, and with rising awareness regarding underage drinking, the state of Massachusetts has adopted a serious zero-tolerance policy. These policies mandate a number of minimum penalties that can include minimum fines, jail time, operator’s license suspensions, and mandatory classes. Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer.
A number of Massachusetts laws cover alcohol related offenses in relation to minors. The most common being minor in possession or transporting alcohol, both criminalized under Massachusetts code chapter 138, section 34c. While the initial penalty of this charge is a maximum $50.00 fine, the other implications are very serious. An alcohol related charge on your permanent record, revocation of driving privileges for 90 days, and increased insurance costs are a few examples of additional repercussions. Even a seemingly minor offense can create a burden for years into the future. Employment background checks, having to claim an offense on applications, difficulty obtaining affordable auto insurance, and even public housing and assistance programs can be affected by a criminal record.
Operating Under the Influence
More serious charges include operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI). An OUI, for a minor only requires a very nominal blood alcohol content (BAC). A BAC greater than 0.02% may result in OUI charges. This is compared to the much higher threshold of 0.08% for an adult over the age of 21. A very small amount of alcohol ingested prior to operation of a motor vehicle is all that it takes to charge a minor with OUI. Without proper defense, these cases often result in major penalties. First time offenses can include fines from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5000, a 1 year revocation of driving privileges, and up to two and a half years jail time.
False or Fake ID in Massachusetts
Using false identification to obtain/purchase alcohol is another very serious charge. Any person using or attempting to impersonate another person to obtain false identification documents is subject to severe penalties even for first time offenses. These may include fines up to $500, a maximum of five years in state prison, or a maximum of two years in jail.
No matter the circumstances, underage drinking charges and related charges can be extremely detrimental to a young person; any alcohol related offense for a minor under 21 requires a thoughtful criminal defense. Our attorneys are well versed in alcohol related defenses, and will be at your side throughout the process to ensure all options are explored. Continue reading