There are so many laws related to alcohol sales and consumption that many people are unaware of. That lack of information won’t protect you if you find yourself in a legally dangerous situation.

College students, in particular, are often vulnerable to facing charges under certain alcohol laws in Virginia. After all, alcohol often plays a significant role in socialization for college students. From parties to club initiations, alcohol is common on and off campus.

Minors who drink in college can wind up charged with crimes, as can those who drive after drinking. Even if you are over the age of 21 and have fully committed to avoiding potentially deadly mistakes, like driving after drinking, you could still find yourself in a legally precarious position.

If you, your fraternity/sorority or your roommate has a party and minors show up, there could be serious legal ramifications for everyone involved if those minors wind up drinking alcohol at the party.

Simply giving an underage person a drink is a crime in Virginia

Unless the alcohol is sacramental in nature and part of a religious ceremony, no minor in Virginia is allowed to drink any amount of alcohol. Just because someone is 20 or already in college doesn’t mean that they can break the law.

Minors may attempt to skirt alcohol law enforcement by attending private parties instead of going out to restaurants and bars. If you don’t know for certain the age of someone at a party, you shouldn’t even hand them a beer. Doing so could be a crime, as you are providing a minor with alcohol.

Although it may disrupt the party vibe at your house, protecting your own legal situation is far more important than seeming cool at a party. Make it a habit of verifying people’s age before they come into any house parties where you intend to serve alcohol. If you spot a minor, you should ask them to leave and take their drink away.

What are the penalties for giving a minor a drink?

You probably think that giving a younger student a drink isn’t really a major criminal offense. However, you can find yourself facing misdemeanor charges, even if that minor doesn’t go on to get into any sort of legal trouble. The result for serving someone underage could be a Class A misdemeanor charge.

The most pressing and immediate consequence is the loss of your driver’s license. Anyone who provides alcohol to a minor will face mandatory license suspension, often for up to a year. There could also be fines of up to $2,500 and even a year of jail time as a penalty.

Refusing to serve alcohol to minors protects you, as well as them, from criminal consequences. If you are already facing legal issues related to providing drinks to a minor, you may want to speak with a Virginia criminal defense attorney to protect yourself.