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California's Underage Alcohol Possession Laws

It comes as no surprise that alcohol is the drug of choice for America’s youth. After all, how old were you the first time you took a sip or got drunk?

Unfortunately, this early drinking has caused many preteens and teens to suffer the consequences of overindulging, often because they simply don’t understand how alcohol affects their bodies.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, each year about 5,000 young people are killed because of underage drinking.

That figure includes:

  • Nearly 2,000 deaths from DUI accidents
  • 1,600 stem from homicides
  • 300 are the result of suicides

In addition to the above, hundreds of other deaths involve freak accidents involving falls, drownings, and burns.

Despite the anti-drinking campaigns heavily pushed by MADD, law enforcement, and the schools, underage drinking continues to plague America’s adolescents.

The data released from the 2005 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of America’s youth, found that:

  • 2 in 5 8th graders have drank alcohol,
  • Over two-thirds of 10th graders have drank alcohol,
  • Three-fourths of 12th graders have consumed alcohol,
  • When youth drink, they often drink 4 or 5 drinks at a time, and
  • In 2003, on average youth had alcohol for the first time at 14, as compared to 17 1/5 in 1965.

Penalties for Youth Possessing Alcohol

As a parent of a teenager, you may not only be concerned about them drinking alcohol or doing drugs, but you may be worried about them being “caught” with alcohol.

As you know, a lot has changed since the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Nowadays, law enforcement has less tolerance for underage drinking than it did when you were a kid.

Even if your teen isn’t drinking and driving, let them know that they can still get in trouble if they are caught with alcohol in their vehicle and you are not with them.

Under California law, if you son or daughter is under 21 they cannot carry beer, wine or liquor in their car unless they are with a parent and the alcohol is unopened and sealed. If they are caught with alcohol in their vehicle, the following may occur:

  • Their vehicle could be impounded for up to 30 days.
  • They may be fined up to $1,000.
  • Their driver’s license may be suspended for one year.
  • If they are not licensed, the DMV could delay issuing their first license for up to one year.

If they are caught driving with any measurable alcohol in their system (.01% or above), their driver’s license will be revoked for one year.

Is your teenager facing DUI or other alcohol-related charges in Orange County? To protect them, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free case evaluation!