Defending Parents in NE Ohio Facing Charges for Allowing Underage Drinking

Allowing your teenager to have a party at your home might seem like a good way to keep an eye on things. Some parents think that as long as they are present to keep things under control, no harm will occur if they allow underage drinking at their homes.

However, parents in Ohio who allow someone under 21 years of age to consume an alcoholic drink risk a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Can You Go to Jail for Drinking Under 21?

Parents and adults responsible for the minor are more likely to face penalties. A person in Ohio can legally consume alcoholic beverages when they are 21 years of age or older. Ohio law permits underage drinking under the following limited circumstances:

  • Consumption of an alcoholic beverage in the presence of the person’s parent, legal guardian, or spouse who is at least 21 years of age
  • Consumption of alcohol as part of a recognized religious service
  • Alcohol use prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of a medical condition

A parent or guardian of a person under 21 years of age cannot give permission, written or otherwise, to allow their child to consume an alcoholic beverage outside of the parent or guardian’s presence. The Ohio Revised Code dealing with underage drinking does not authorize the giving of permission by a parent or guardian. The parent or guardian must be present when the beverage is consumed by the underage drinker.

Parents must also be cautious about alcoholic beverages that are brought into their home by underage guests. Regardless of whether you provide the alcohol or it is brought into your home by others, homeowners are responsible for its consumption by a guest under 21 years of age.

Civil Liability for Underage Drinking

Homeowners who allow underage guests to drink alcoholic beverages could be civilly liable for damages. If a guest is injured or harmed or causes injury or harm to another person, the owner of the home where the alcohol was consumed could be sued for compensation for the injuries or other harm that results.

For example, a homeowner could be sued by an underage guest who has a few drinks containing alcohol and is involved in a car accident after leaving. Other people injured in the accident could also sue the homeowner because of underage drinking.

Penalty for Possession of Alcohol Under 21 in Ohio

Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by a person who is not yet 21 years of age is punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days of confinement if the person is not yet 18 years of age. A person who is between 18 and 21 years of age is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

If the possession or consumption occurred in a car, truck, or other motor vehicle, the penalties could include the suspension of the person’s license to drive. A first offense can be handled through a diversion program that allows the offender to avoid the penalties associated with a conviction.

Buying Alcohol Under 21 in Ohio

The purchase of beverages containing alcohol is illegal by a person who is under 21 years of age unless the person doing so is part of a law enforcement operation. The penalties are a fine of up to $250 and confinement of up to 30 days if the offender is under 18. Offenders between 18 and 21 years of age can be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000 and 180 days in jail.

Using or Selling a Fake I.D. in Ohio

Use of a false identification to obtain alcohol is a crime in Ohio, as is selling, distributing, producing, or lending a false identification to someone who is underage. The penalties include minimum jail sentences and fines up to $1,000 for a first offense and increase with subsequent offenses.

Servers of Alcoholic Beverages

Bars, restaurants, resorts, clubs, and other establishments where beverages containing alcohol are served must adhere to underage drinking restrictions imposed by Ohio law. These establishments must also comply with age requirements pertaining to workers, such as bartenders and waiters and waitresses, who serve alcohol to customers. The minimum age for servers is 19 years of age for beer, wine, and spirits. Bartenders must be at least 19 years of age to serve beer and 21 years of age to serve wine and spirits.

Workers in off-premises establishments, such as convenience stores, supermarkets, and grocery stores, must be at least 18 years of age to sell any type of alcohol. Violation of minimum age requirements for consumption or service of alcoholic beverages can result in an establishment losing its ability to sell such beverages, in addition to fines and jail sentences related to criminal charges that can also be filed.

Consult a Northeast Ohio Underage Drinking Lawyer

The attorneys at Erb Legal have experience representing individuals and businesses across Northeastern Ohio in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings arising from underage drinking violations. Contact our office today at (330) 446-3606 to schedule a free consultation. We serve Medina County, Portage County, Wayne County, and Summit County.