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What to know about underage drinking in Maryland

Maryland law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol. It also bars individuals under the age of 21 from possessing alcoholic beverages. However, there are several exceptions to these laws. For instance, a minor may drink alcohol at home as long as a family member over the age of 21 is there to supervise. Minors may also consume alcohol as part of a religious ceremony.

An individual who is otherwise unable to possess alcohol per state law is allowed to do so for an employer that has a valid liquor license. If a person is illegally in possession of alcohol, he or she will likely receive a citation. However, on its own, it would not be enough for an individual to be taken into custody. Those who provide alcohol to individuals who they know to be under 21 years of age could face a fine of up to $2,500.

Drivers under the age of 21 face greater restrictions as it relates to operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Anyone who is under 21 may not drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content greater than .02 percent. A conviction for an underage DUI could result in the loss of a driver's license and having to use an ignition interlock device for three years.

Individuals who are charged with underage drinking or possession of alcohol could put their personal and professional futures in jeopardy. This is because it may be possible for those who are convicted to lose their driver's licenses, which may make it impossible to drive to work, school or an internship. Fines and other financial penalties may make it difficult to pay for a vehicle or other tools needed to get an education. A criminal defense attorney may take steps to have charges dropped or reduced in a case.

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