For students in Georgia experiencing life on their own for the first time, balancing the stress with the good times is part of the thrill of college living. Many undergraduate students will not say no to weekend parties where there is plenty of alcohol flowing. Unfortunately, the fun times may stop abruptly when law enforcement shows up.
The consequences of an arrest for minor possession or consumption of alcohol, or of a DUI, can seriously affect a student’s educational and employment opportunities. Drinking in college is a rite of passage, no doubt. But getting caught can cause problems that will follow them long after they have left school.
For residents of Athens, getting out of trouble may mean developing a legal strategy that can result in reduced or even dropped charges. The process of clearing a juvenile record may include entry into a diversion program or filing a petition for expungement.
Underage drinking in Georgia
The laws surrounding alcohol possession or DUI for minors are strict, and can result in fines, jail time and a criminal record that will be difficult to leave behind. In Georgia, being a minor in possession (MIP) is a criminal offense and applies to anyone under the age of 21 who:
- Possesses alcohol
- Consumes alcohol
- Misrepresents their identity in order to purchase or obtain an alcoholic beverage
MIP laws do not apply to minors whose parents or guardians have furnished alcohol to them in the home, nor does it prevent minors from the serving, selling, handling, or having possession of alcohol as part of their employment.
A conviction for alcohol MIP is a misdemeanor for a first offense and can result in a $300 fine and up to 12 months in jail. The aftershock of conviction for college students can be expulsion from school, the loss of scholarship opportunities and other disciplinary actions.
Drinking at parties can lead to driver impairment after the party is over. Georgia DUI laws have a zero tolerance BAC limit for minors of 0.02%. Unfortunately, nearly one in three fatalities of minors aged 15 to 20 years old are the result of motor vehicle crashes, and 35% of these are alcohol-related.
Even a first offense for a minor DUI is a misdemeanor with stiff penalties, possible jail time and a minimum of 20 hours of community service. Georgia also has an open container law that can lead to MIP charges.