What Happens to an Underage Drinker in Georgia?

Underage drinking is prohibited in Georgia and could result in serious consequences, depending on the severity of the case. In this blog, we will go over the state’s minor in possession laws and underage DUI sentencing, both of which include fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension, among other penalties.

Minor in Possession Penalties

Georgia implements minor in possession (MIP) laws to prevent anyone under the age of 21 to consume or possess alcoholic beverages. These laws aim to discourage minors from drinking and committing related serious crimes. Note that minors under 21 years old are allowed to serve alcohol in a licensed establishment as part of their job, and exceptions to the state’s MIP laws are if minors possess alcohol for medicinal purposes, religious ceremonies, or when the parent or guardian allows the underage person to consume alcohol in the home.

Minors who purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess alcoholic beverages will face legal consequences. It is also unlawful for underage individuals to use fake identification for the purpose of obtaining alcohol illegally. Violating this law will result in the following:

  • First Offense
    • Up to $300 in fines
    • Up to 6 months in jail
    • 6 months of driver’s license suspension
  • Second or Subsequent Offense
    • Up to $1,000 in fines
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • 1 year of driver’s license suspension

Note that in addition to the above penalties, the offender may also be required to complete a drug or alcohol educational program within 120 days of their conviction. If they fail to complete the program, the judge may order them to pay an additional fine of up to $300 and/or spend 20 days in jail. First offenders may alternatively be placed on probation, enter a diversion program, or enroll in a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Also be aware that it is illegal for anyone to knowingly furnish alcohol or permit a person under 21 to consume an alcoholic beverage. Penalties for doing so could be:

  • $750-$1,000 in fines;
  • up to 12 months in jail; and/or
  • license revocation of a licensed established upon a second conviction.

Underage DUI

Any driver under the age of 21 will face driving under the influence (DUI) charges if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .02% or higher, according to Georgia’s Zero Tolerance Law. The penalties for a first-time underage DUI conviction include:

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $300-$1,000 in fines;
  • 6 months of driver’s license suspension;
  • 20 hours of community service; and/or
  • license reinstatement fee of $210.

Upon a second conviction, an underage driver could face:

  • 90 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600-$1,000 in fines;
  • 12 months of driver’s license suspension;
  • 30 days of community service;
  • license reinstatement fee of $210;
  • completion of an alcohol treatment program;
  • installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in vehicle.

A third DUI conviction within a 10-year period is a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor leading to a sentence of $1000-$5000 in fines, up to 12 months in jail, and at least 30 days of community service, and a fourth conviction within a 10-year period will be charged as either a high and aggravated misdemeanor or a felony. Fourth offenses usually include $1000-$5000 in fines, up to 5 years in jail, and at least 60 days of community service. It is worth considering that Georgia does provide some special sentencing treatment for underage DUI offenders; at their discretion, a judge can decide that a first-time underage DUI offender can serve their required jail time on the weekends or during non-working hours.

Note that anyone under the age of 21 who is convicted of a DUI offense will not be eligible for a limited driving permit, which usually allows offenders to drive to and from work, school, the pharmacy, or DUI educational programs. Underage DUI offenders will have to wait until their license suspension period is over before applying for a license reinstatement.

Be aware that Georgia has implied consent laws in place that assume a driver’s consent to submit to chemical testing if the law enforcement officer deems it reasonable to request. If drivers refuse chemical testing, thus avoiding a BAC measurement, they might still face a DUI-less-safe charge. This kind of charge prohibits driving while impaired to the extent that it is less safe for a person to drive, regardless of age.

Let an Experienced Attorney Handle Your Case

If you or your child are facing an underage drinking charge in the state of Georgia, consult an attorney immediately. Depending on the severity of your case, such as merely being a minor in possession or, more seriously, driving under the influence while underage, you could face significant jail time or fines, among other penalties. Let an attorney at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. take a look at your situation and help you determine your next course of legal action. These are not uncommon offenses, after all, so with the help of an experienced lawyer you can promptly address your case and move forward with your future.

Contact our firm at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. to schedule a free consultation today!

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