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Can parents let their children drink?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Criminal Defense

It is commonly known, of course, that the legal drinking age is 21. Someone who is under 21 is not allowed to buy or consume alcohol. Even possessing alcohol is illegal in most situations.

However, as a parent, you may not think that it is fair for these rules to extend into your home. If you want to allow your child to have a beer with you before they turn 21, are you allowed to make that decision? Or does the law apply in all cases, regardless of what parents decide for their own children?

It is permitted in specific situations

Under Virginia law, minors are allowed to possess alcoholic beverages if they are with a spouse, a guardian or a parent who is at least 21 years old. They also have to possess and/or consume this alcoholic beverage in a private residence.

In other words, if you have an 18-year-old child who is home from college and the two of you decide to have a drink together, you can legally do so in your own home. But, if your child leaves the home or you’re drinking somewhere other than a private residence, this is still illegal. That’s true even if you technically gave your child permission to have the drink. It still has to happen in your home.

Can you buy for minors?

One thing that some minors will ask their parents is if they will buy alcohol for them. Based on the way the law works above, you may assume that you can do this because you are essentially giving your permission for them to have the drink.

But it’s still illegal to buy alcohol for those who are under age. You can share the alcohol that you have at home, but you cannot begin supplying a minor with alcohol simply because you approve of it. It still breaks the law, especially if they are going to take that alcohol outside of the private residence – such as bringing it back to college with them.

What options do you have?

These laws can get a bit confusing and you can make an honest mistake that leads to legal charges. If this happens, you need to know about all of the options at your disposal.


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