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Although underage drinking is common, penalties can be harsh

Here in Virginia, and throughout the U.S., binge drinking has come to be commonly associated with the college lifestyle. For many, it is a sort of rite of passage to drink alcohol before reaching the legal age of 21. Although Virginia uses a driver's license design that is meant to be nearly impossible to counterfeit, it is not rare for minors to find a way to drink alcohol in the state. Some minors drink at parties, where they do not need to show identification, and others purchase fraudulent IDs online or on campus.

Although underage drinking might be somewhat common in many parts of the U.S., it can lead to very harsh consequences in Virginia. This is because, unfortunately, juvenile charges often leave a record behind. This means the criminal charge can follow a young person well into adulthood--affecting scholarship and college admission opportunities, as well as career options down the road. This is why juveniles should always seek criminal defense counsel--no matter how minor or harmless the charges seem--in order to obtain the most favorable results possible.

Because underage drinking has become almost synonymous with leaving the nest and going away to college, many otherwise law-abiding minors do acquire fake IDS. In fact, a 2007 study found that 32 percent of Midwestern undergraduates owned a fake ID by the end of their sophomore year in college; even the highly recognizable daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, Scout Willis, was caught using a fake ID last year at the age of 20. Back in 2001, an underage Jenna Bush, of the then first family, was famously caught using a fraudulent ID to buy alcohol.

While underage drinking can lead to jail time, both of those young women were sentenced to community service. While many underage drinking defendants might not think community service is an unbearable sentence, it is very important to worry about the long-term penalties, namely how the charges will be recorded and the potential effects of that.

Source: BBC News, "Why fake ID is an American rite of passage," Jon Kelly, April 7, 2013

  • Our law firm in Fairfax County provides criminal defense counsel to those facing juvenile criminal charges. More information is available on our Juvenile Crimes Defense page.

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