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Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Whether Underage Drinking Is Ever Okay

June 27, 2018

In Colorado, the legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages is 21. You might wonder if it is ever okay for someone under that age to drink alcohol? It might surprise you to know that there are two answers to this question: no and yes. Read on to find out what a Denver criminal defense attorney has to say about underage drinking.

Instances in Which an Underage Person Can Consume Alcohol

Called an “affirmative defense,” there are specific situations in which a person under the age of 21 in Colorado can drink or possess alcohol. It’s interesting to note that Colorado’s five exceptions are the second highest in the country. Only New Jersey is higher, with six exceptions. Other states have fewer, with Idaho coming in at zero exceptions.

Let’s take a look what these situations are.

#1—An underage person can have a drink if he or she is with a parent or guardian on private property. An example of this would be having a small glass of wine with a holiday dinner. This is acceptable—and the child must not get behind the wheel to drive afterward. (There are insurance ramifications associated with underage drinking if a minor is caught driving under the influence. This recent blog post goes into more details.)
#2—An underage person is allowed to eat food that has alcohol in it, such as a cake that is baked with bourbon in it. Medical reasons are also included with this exception.
#3—An underage person can taste alcohol for education purposes, such as a 20-year-old training in the restaurant industry. However, he or she is expected to spit it out afterward.
#4—An underage person can drink alcohol for religious purposes, such as taking communion at church. This is protected under the 1st Amendment.
#5—An underage person who has been drinking but acts as a “good Samaritan” on behalf of another person who has been drinking is protected from legal consequences. The purpose of this is to prevent concern about legal ramifications if one person calls to get help for another person.

Penalties for Underage Drinking

If none of these exceptions applies, an underage drinker will face charges for underage drinking. If convicted, first-time offenders will be fined or have to receive treatment for substance abuse—or both. They may also lose their driver’s license for 90 days.
If you want more information on drinking laws in the state of Colorado, here is a list of frequently asked questions from the state’s official site.
If you or your child has been arrested for underage drinking, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. At the Law Office of John L. Buckley, we will fight on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome. We understand this can happen, and we do not believe that a single mistake should ruin a teenager’s future. Regardless of the charges you are facing, we can help you prepare the best defense. Everyone deserves fair and reliable representation from an expert such as those at the Law Office of John L. Buckley, PC. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.