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Covid-19 Statement

PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in person, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C.
A Proven Criminal Defense Team

What are the rules for legal underage drinking in Colorado?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2022 | DUI and DWAI Charges, Juvenile Crime, Underage Drinking and Driving |

The legal drinking age in the United States has been 21 years old for decades. However, certain specific exceptions enable those under that age to consume alcoholic beverages legally. These exceptions could come into play at family gatherings or parties on private property. It is a given that underage drinkers should not operate a motorized vehicle – those who do could face DUI or underage DUI.

The exceptions

Typical circumstances that allow for underage drinking:

  • Private property: Generally speaking, the owner of the home or property must agree to the consumption of alcohol by underage drinkers. Moreover, the parent of the young drinker must also consent to their children’s consumption of alcohol.
  • Food: The food containing alcohol must comply with applicable regulations, and then it can be consumed by someone under 21.
  • Medical or hygienic purposes: These are also exempted.
  • Educational reasons: This can involve a server taking instruction from an expert or a student in a classroom setting. In either case, they must spit out the liquid after tasting it.
  • Religious purposes: Protected as religious freedom, consuming wine blessed by a priest during Catholic Eucharist is a common example.
  • Reporting another minor in need of medical help: This involves not prosecuting underage Samaritans who call 911 to request medical assistance for someone in distress or injured. The caller must stay at the scene and cooperate with law enforcement.

The penalties for illegal drinking

Charges of public intoxication can be problematic for underage drinkers and include fines or other penalties. The issue becomes a life-changing event when they face driving under the influence (DUI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), which is a lesser offense, or causing harm or injury to others. The penalties likely include loss of license, performing public service and attending required classes. There may also be long-term issues that affect college acceptance, financial aid, insurance rates, and job prospects.

These charges have short- and long-term effects

Those facing an underage drinking charge are wise to take the matter seriously. A step in the right direction is seeking legal guidance from an attorney who defends clients charged with underage drinking and DUI. While it is unlikely that the charges will be dropped, there may be the option to reach a plea deal with the prosecution.

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