There are some assumptions about safety regarding alcohol. One is that a person should not drive or operate machinery while intoxicated, as safety is nearly impossible to maintain while drunk. Another is that alcohol is bad for the developing minds and bodies of children.
Maryland and most other jurisdictions in the United States prohibit drinking for anyone under 21 years of age. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rules that could clear a minor of underage drinking or possession of alcohol charges.
An employee of a business with a valid liquor license in Maryland may possess (but not consume) alcohol, so long as he or she is an official employee. This allows underage servers to deliver drinks to a table, for example.
There are only two legitimate situations in which a child consuming alcohol is legal in Maryland. The first is within a private home with the supervision of a parent or close family member. The second is as part of a religious ceremony or rite that requires an alcoholic beverage. Several religions sanction the use of alcohol as part of services.
There are other conceivable situations that could go against underage drinking charges. For instance, a person who reasonably could not know that he or she was drinking alcohol may make a defense in court that claims a lack of intent to drink.
An attorney can help elucidate these options better if necessary. Legal representation is often a vital part of getting past charges of underage drinking, and a lawyer may also work with law enforcement authorities to understand the nature of the charges against you.