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Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 06:18 pm
Getting charged with underage drinking can be scary and overwhelming for both kids and parents. While it’s common for teens to experiment with alcohol, the legal consequences in Maryland are very real and can negatively impact a young person’s future. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in these cases. Here’s an overview of underage drinking laws in Maryland and how a lawyer can help.
In Maryland, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to:
There are a few exceptions, such as if the underage person is in a private residence with their parent, guardian or spouse present. However, in general it is against the law for minors to have any alcohol in their system, even while driving. Maryland has a zero tolerance policy for underage DUIs.
First-time offenses for underage possession of alcohol are misdemeanor crimes punishable by fines up to $500. Subsequent offenses can result in fines up to $1000. Using a fake ID to obtain alcohol is punishable by up to 2 months in jail and a $500 fine.
Minors can also face driver’s license suspension through Maryland’s use/lose law. This allows suspension of a driver’s license for up to 90 days for underage possession, consumption, or drunk driving.
If your child is facing underage drinking charges in Maryland, it’s important to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer you trust. Look for someone with extensive experience representing minors in underage drinking cases. Ask about their track record getting charges reduced or dismissed. Be sure they have strong relationships with local prosecutors and judges. Consider lawyers who offer free consultations so you can discuss the details of your child’s case. Resources like the Maryland State Bar Association lawyer referral service can connect you with qualified attorneys.
The lawyer should make you and your child feel supported, not judged. Find someone who takes the time to understand your family’s unique situation and concerns. Select a lawyer your child feels comfortable opening up to. The best lawyer for your family will provide skilled legal representation along with compassion.
Here are some steps to take if your child is facing underage drinking charges in Maryland:
By taking proactive steps and securing experienced legal counsel, you can help your child move forward while minimizing the lasting impact of an underage drinking charge.
It’s best for minors to politely decline participation in any field sobriety tests or chemical breath tests until a lawyer is present. While refusal comes with its own consequences, agreeing to tests provides evidence that may be used against your child.
Children should avoid answering any substantive questions beyond basic identifying information. Have them politely state they will not answer further questions without a lawyer present. Anything they say can be used against them.
Yes, Maryland can suspend driver’s licenses for up to 90 days for minors charged with possession, consumption, or drunk driving. An attorney may be able to help prevent suspension or arrange a restricted license.
Yes, character references can be helpful for your attorney to present a fuller picture of your child during sentencing. The best references emphasize positive traits like responsibility, hard work ethic, and good decision-making.
Not necessarily. An experienced lawyer will advocate to avoid a criminal conviction through options like deferred adjudication. This results in charges being dismissed after probation without a permanent record.
Underage drinking charges can be complicated and scary for families. The consequences seem overwhelming and severe. But an experienced criminal defense lawyer levels the playing field. They use their knowledge of Maryland’s laws and court systems to protect your child’s future. Thanks to their advocacy, an underage drinking charge does not have to define your child forever. With the right legal guidance, they can move forward and learn from this mistake.
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