As a parent, you are allowed under the law to make certain decisions for your children – including whether or not to give them alcohol. However, there are some very serious issues to be aware of if you allow your teen to drink at family gatherings or just at home with you.
If you want to allow your teen to drink at home, it’s important to know what the law has to say not only about supplying them with alcohol – also consider what can happen if they drink and get behind the wheel of a car, even if they’re not impaired.
This information could come in handy this holiday season to keep both you and your teen out of legal jeopardy.
Underage Drinking in Minnesota
It is legal in Minnesota for a minor, defined as someone under age 21, to drink under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian. Specifically, the law allows a minor to consume or possess alcohol as long as they have the permission of the adult who has legal guardianship over them.
However, this is only valid in the privacy of their guardian or parent’s home. When they leave the home, it’s a whole new matter.
Drinking and Driving Underage in Minnesota
Minnesota has a law that is commonly referred to as “not-a-drop.” It is illegal for anyone in Minnesota under the legal drinking age of 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. The “not-a-drop” nomenclature comes into play here, because it’s a zero-tolerance policy in regard to drinking and driving.
On top of that, the driving while impaired (DWI) laws apply to every driver on the road, no matter how old they are. That means that any minor who is pulled over and identified as driving while impaired is subject to the same penalties, both criminal and administrative, as any other DWI offender – with any amount of alcohol in their system. In fact, some of the sanctions that can be placed on drivers are often more severe for those that are underage.
Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving
Anyone under age 21 who operates a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system can be charged with a misdemeanor under Minnesota law. That can result in a penalty of up to three months in jail and fines of as much as $1,000. The offense may be prosecuted in juvenile court if the driver is under age 18.
For a first-time underage DWI, a license suspension of 30 days is put into effect. If they are caught a second time, that will go up to 180 days. If the driver isn’t licensed, then it will be more difficult for them to get a driver’s license with the offense on their record in the future.
If an underage driver is impaired or has a blood alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent, then a DWI can be charged. If they are convicted of this crime, their past driving record will be taken into account.
However, Minnesota law treats drivers over age 16 as adults when it comes to DWIs. That makes it a serious offense that can result in loss of their driver’s license for up to 180 days.
You can choose to let your teen drink, but make sure they do not get behind the wheel of a car – even if they don’t appear impaired in any way. It can result in a criminal situation that could follow them around for life.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.