Underage drinking in Ohio is a serious crime. The state prohibits anyone under that age of 21 from possessing, consuming or being under the influence of alcohol. Being charged with underage consumption is a familiar situation at many Ohio colleges. Holding an alcoholic beverage and/or being intoxicated in a public place is enough to sustain the charge. Police do not need to give students a breathalyzer to prove intoxication.
A violation of Ohio’s Underage Consumption law is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a potential jail term of six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000.00 and other penalties like court costs, community service, probation, alcohol counseling and untold issues with your college. Under most Ohio college codes of conduct, being charged with violating the underage drinking law may subject you to penalties ranging from residential penalties and university penalties to loss of scholarship or dismissal from your college athletic team.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you to give police your name, address and anything that identifies you if you are asked for identification and you are not in a bar. You are not required to give your driver’s license or social security number unless you are already under arrest. Ask if you are under arrest or in custody and if you are not, ask if you may leave. If you are among friends, ask them to witness any conversation you have with police. If questions are asked, advise that you would like to speak to a criminal defense attorney before you answer anything.
- The officer can and probably will arrest you anyway. Remember, the police can arrest anyone for anything but unless you’ve done something else to warrant an arrest, they must know at the time of your arrest that you are under 21 before convicting you of underage consumption of alcohol.
- Be polite, but firm. You have the right to remain silent so use it. Do not incriminate yourself, and do not try to run away. Simply identify yourself and ask for your criminal defense attorney.
- The police officer may be angry or threatening. Don’t worry, he will not hurt you. Unless you give them the evidence, they cannot convict you. Never lie and always treat the officer with respect. But never admit anything, just remain silent.
- Do not stand near sidewalks or streets with an open container of alcohol. If you are stopped for this or for disorderly conduct, the police officer can seize your ID and will know your age. Know the phone number of someone who is sober to come get you.
- Stay with your friends and witnesses. Travel in groups. Police officers look for people who are walking alone and appear to be intoxicated. Avoid looking suspicious – don’t hide the alcohol.
The Bottom Line: Being arrested does not mean you will be convicted. Let me help you beat the charges against you. There is the possibility the arrest was unlawful. Your future is at stake. Let me develop a plan for your defense and begin helping you protect your rights. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney: 513.260.2099