What Happens If You Get Caught Drinking Under 21?
Teens and young adults are well-known for their tendencies to let loose and have fun. Getting “up to no good” is common for these age groups, and underage alcohol consumption is one of the most common offenses committed by people under 21. Whether they’re experimenting with alcohol, spending time with an older crowd, or hanging out in the wrong place at the wrong time, people under 21 are prone to get caught by the police for underage drinking.
Crimes like minor in possession (MIP), possessing a fake ID, and underage drinking may seem like no big deal to teens and young adults, especially if they've gotten away with these acts in the past, but the reality is, a conviction for any of these crimes could have devastating outcomes. In Wisconsin, underage alcohol offenses could be punishable by both administrative and criminal penalties. Not to mention, the consequences of drinking underage include injuries and death, which are far worse than fines and license suspensions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash. Even though the minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21, data shows 16% of 15 to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 had been drinking.
If you or a loved one is accused of an underage alcohol offense, it’s important to gear up with powerhouse defense to protect your freedom and future. Get in touch with the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella online or at (414) 882-8382 to learn more.
Wisconsin Absolute Sobriety Law
The not a drop law in Wisconsin prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.00 to 0.08. Because of their age, people under 21 are subject to harsher restrictions and penalties for driving a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their systems. If convicted of violating Wisconsin’s absolute sobriety law, the punishment is a $200 fine, 4 points assessed to your driving record, and a 3-month license suspension.
However, you may be eligible for an occupational license immediately after your conviction. An occupational driver’s license is defined as a restricted driver's license that enables you to maintain your employment and household. Teens and young adults may only be allowed to drive to and from work and/or school. This is because an occupational license limits when, where, and what type of vehicle a person can drive.
Misrepresentation of Age
Any person under 21 is legally prohibited from procuring or misrepresenting their age to obtain alcohol in Wisconsin, whether it be for consumption, sale, and the like. Procurement in this context means making an effort to persuade another person that you are 21+. Similarly, misrepresenting your age to appear 21 or older so you can obtain alcohol is also an offense. The punishment for procuring or misrepresenting your age if you are between the ages of 17 and 20 is:
- First offense: $250 to $500 fines and a 30 to 90-day driver’s license suspension.
- Second offense in 1 year: $300 to $500 fines and up to a 1-year license suspension.
- Third offense within 1 year: $500 to $750 fines and a maximum 2-year license suspension.
- Fourth and subsequent offense in 1 year: $750 to $1,000 fines a maximum 2-year license suspension.
A juvenile under the age of 17 who procures or misrepresents their age to obtain alcohol could face the same fines and license suspension periods like 17 to 20-year-olds would.
Simply put, procuring is the act of persuading or causing someone to do something, usually, by investing some extra effort. Let’s say that a retailer sold you alcohol last week without checking your ID, so you try your luck again. This time, however, the retailer hesitates and asks to see your ID. Since you’re under 21, you attempt to procure the retailer into selling you a bottle of booze by presenting your purchase receipt from the week prior. By the same token, an example of misrepresenting your age is lying to or otherwise deceiving a bartender that you are 21 or older.
What Happens if You Get Caught with a Fake ID?
It’s tempting for people under 21 to get a fake ID. Regardless of how many of your friends have used a fake ID and gotten away with it, however, it is still a crime to use a fake ID. In Wisconsin, getting caught with a fake ID is punishable by fines and license suspension. If you are 18 to 20-years-old and got caught using a fake ID, you could pay $300 to $1,250 fines and lose your driving privileges for 30 to 90 days. If you are under 17 and were caught with a fake ID, your penalties could include:
- First offense: $100 to $500 fines and a 30 to 90-day license suspension.
- Second offense within 1 year: $300 to $500 fines and up to a 1-year license suspension.
- Third and subsequent offense in 1 year: A $500 fine and up to a 2-year license suspension.
Penalty for Possession of Alcohol Under 21
A minor in possession of alcohol could face steep fines and lengthy license suspension periods if they’re caught by the police. Anyone ages 17 to 20 who knowingly possesses or consumes alcohol could face the following consequences:
- First offense: $100 to $200 fines and a 30 to 90-day license suspension.
- Second offense within 1 year: $200 to $300 fines and up to a 1-year license suspension.
- Third offense within 1 year: $300 to $500 fines and a maximum 2-year license suspension.
- Fourth and subsequent offense within 1 year: $500 to $1,000 fines and a 2-year license suspension.
Although juveniles could face less serious penalties for this crime than those who are 17 to 20, that doesn’t downplay the gravity of the offense. Anyone under 17 who knowingly possesses or consumes alcohol in Wisconsin could be punished as such:
- First offense: Up to a $50 fine and 30 to 90-day license suspension.
- Second offense in 1 year: Up to a $100 fine and a maximum 1-year license suspension.
- Third and subsequent offense in 1 year: Up to a $500 fine and up to a 2-year license suspension.
Unopened Alcohol in Car Under 21
Driving with closed alcohol in the car is illegal for people under 21. Driving with an open container of alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21. The bottom line is that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to operate a vehicle containing alcohol. However, teens and young adults aren’t the only people who should be mindful of this law. Parents should, as well. Parents often loan their vehicles to their teen drivers, and when they do, it’s important to ensure that no trace of alcohol or other intoxicants is in the vehicle.
Anyone under 21 who is caught with alcohol in their vehicles, regardless of whether the container is opened or closed, could be fined $20 to $400. A first offense will result in a 30 to 90-day license suspension, a second offense is punishable by a maximum 1-year license suspension, and a third and subsequent offense carries a 2-year license suspension penalty.
Are You or Your Child in Trouble with the Law?
As you can see, underage drinking, possession, driving under the influence, and other related offenses are not taken lightly in Wisconsin. Using a fake ID is no exception, either. With so much at stake, it is important to challenge your accusations with the help of our lawyer. With over 25 years of legal experience on both sides of the system, you can count on attorney Cherella to help protect your rights, reputation, and driving privileges.
Don’t lose hope. Help is just a phone call away at (414) 882-8382!