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At college but under 21? Think twice before drinking

You are off at college and enjoy going to parties all the time. While you might feel completely independent and invincible, you do want to be mindful of underage drinking laws in Maryland. You might be at college with friends who are 21 or older, but that does not give you a free pass.

If you are underage and get caught possessing or consuming alcohol by law enforcement, you could face serious penalties. Here is an overview of the civil offenses and crimes related to underage drinking.

Minor in possession

Violation of the minor in possession law in Maryland is a civil offense. While not a criminal conviction, it comes with its own consequences. If you are between 18 and 21 years old, you may face a $500 fine for your first offense and potential $1,000 fines for subsequent violations.

Failure to prove age or identity

If you are being cited by a police officer for violating underage drinking laws, the officer will likely ask for proof of your age or identification. Failing to provide proof of these facts with something like your driver's license is a misdemeanor. You may face an additional fine of $50 for committing this crime.

Providing alcohol to a minor

If you supply another minor with alcohol, law enforcement can charge you with a misdemeanor. This criminal conviction comes with potential fines of $2,500 for your first conviction and $5,000 for subsequent convictions.

There are very few exceptions to underage drinking laws in Maryland. Unless you possess alcohol as part of your employment, consume alcohol provided by a family member on his or her private residence, or consume alcohol for a religious ceremony, you can be committing a civil offense or misdemeanor. This does not take into account disciplinary actions taken by your university or problems applying for jobs in the future. If you received a citation for any of these violations, contact a criminal defense attorney for help.

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