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Student Crimes: Alcohol Related Offenses

After the prohibition era, many states lowered the minimum drinking age to ages as low as eighteen in an effort to reflect the changes in society that now permitted persons eighteen and older to vote, participate in the draft, and fight for their country. However, after studies showed that a higher minimum legal drinking age was effective in reducing and preventing the amount of alcohol related deaths and injuries among youths, advocates began insisting that the drinking age be returned to 21. Because of such advocacy campaigns, the government instituted the Uniform Drinking Age Act of 1984 to pressure states into raising the minimum legal drinking age. The MLDA21 Law became effective in Massachusetts in June 1985 and increased the legal drinking age to twenty-one years of age. From that time, it has been deemed a crime for a minor under the age of twenty-one to possess, transport, consume, purchase, or attempt to obtain alcohol of any type.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts deems the protection and care of minors a priority, and consequently imposes strict laws and punishments pertaining to minor alcohol related offenses. Being charged with a crime is an anxiety-ridden and disconcerting occurrence for anyone but especially with regard to minors who are inexperienced and unfamiliar with the operation and function of the judicial system and the specific laws and penalties associated with their charges. Being convicted of a crime while on campus or in college can have serious detrimental effects on your future. In the event you are charged with a crime, it is vital that you seek legal counsel to educate you about the charge and to vigorously defend your rights and your future. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is devoted to ensuring that the constitutional rights and the futures of Boston area students are protected and that their lack of criminal history is maintained.

Minor Possession or Transportation of Alcohol

Massachusetts G.L. c. 138, sec. 34C concerns itself with the possession and transportation of alcohol by a minor without the accompaniment of a parent. The law provides that anyone under the age of twenty-one, not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, who knowingly possesses, transports, or carries any alcohol or alcoholic beverage is punishable by a maximum fine of $50 for the offense, and a maximum fine of $150 for the second and subsequent offenses. In addition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles requires a license suspension of ninety days for a violation of this law. This law does not apply to a person 18-20 who transports, carriers, or possesses alcohol during the course of his employment.

Sale, Delivery or Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages to Persons under 21-years of Age

The Commonwealth makes it a crime for anyone to sell, deliver, or furnish alcohol or alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of twenty-one, pursuant to G.L. c. 138, sec. 34A. The violation of this law is punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000, by maximum imprisonment of 1 year, or both. Under this law, to “furnish” is to knowingly or intentionally supply, give, provide or allow a person under 21 to possess alcoholic beverages. This law makes an exception for parents and grandparents.

Prohibition for Hosting Underage Drinking Parties

As of 2011, all states now have laws that impose liability against individuals who knowingly host or are responsible for underage drinking events on property the own, lease, or otherwise control. In an effort to reduce deaths and injuries to minors by alcohol related incidents, the state implemented these laws to deter underage drinking and discourage those who allow minors to consume alcoholic beverages. The state may impose liability regardless of who furnishes the alcohol. Hosts who allow underage drinking on their property as well as supply the alcohol consumed or possessed by the minors may be in violation of two distinct laws: furnishing alcohol to a minor and allowing underage drinking to occur on property they control. Violations of these laws can lead to sanctions, fines, or in some cases, imprisonment. In addition to penalties dictated by the state, one who hosts an underage drinking party will also be held accountable by private parties for injury to the minor, and injuries to a third party caused by the minor resulting from alcohol consumption.

Minors: OUI/DUI/DWI

This charge is a criminal offense in which a person is found to be operating a vehicle after having ingested any alcoholic beverage or chemical substance which impairs their ability to drive safely. Pursuant to M.G.L.A. 90 § 24, a minor (under the age of 21) may be charged with an OUI offense if they register a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. To learn more about an OUI offense for those under 21 and to view a break down of the penalties attached, please visit our OUI: Minors/Persons Under 21 page.

Using or Creating False Identification for the Purposes of Obtaining Alcohol

Under Massachusetts G.L. c.90 sec. 24B, anyone who fraudulently makes, steals, alters, forges or counterfeits, procures, or assists another to steal, alter, or make a learner’s permit, a driver’s license, or an identification card is in violation of this law and is punishable by a maximum fine of $500, or maximum imprisonment in the state prison for 5 years, or maximum imprisonment in jail for 2 years. In addition, anyone who falsely impersonates another person or assists someone in the false impersonation of another person shall be punished by a maximum fine of $500, or maximum imprisonment in the state prison for 5 years, or maximum imprisonment in jail for 2 years. A violation of either of these sections of the law will also be subject to immediate revocation of their driver’s license for a minimum of 1 year.

Provisions targeting minors

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • Penalty may include driver’s license suspension through a judicial procedure

Provisions targeting suppliers

  • It is a criminal offense to lend, transfer, or sell a false ID
  • It is a criminal offense to manufacture or distribute a false ID

Provisions targeting retailers

  • Licenses for drivers under age 21 are easily distinguishable from those for drivers age 21 and older
  • Specific affirmative defense: the retailer inspected the false ID and came to a reasonable conclusion based on its appearance that it was valid

For a comprehensive look at the facts, crimes, and statistics about Massachusetts’ underage drinking laws compiled by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, please click here.

Relentless Massachusetts Student Crimes Defense Attorney

The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is a Boston, Massachusetts based law firm that is led by a skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney that will care about and personally handle your Minor OUI case. Attorney Murphy is an aggressive and skilled Massachusetts criminal defense trial attorney who has 18 years of successful experience defending clients. Let Attorney Murphy help you avoid the detrimental repercussions an OUI or any alcohol related crimes could have on your future. Contact Attorney Murphy by calling (617) 367-0450 or completing the contacts tab on our website. As a dedicated legal advocate, Attorney Murphy is available 24/7 for a free and confidential assessment of your case.

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