As a teenager, you may remember asking someone over 21 years of age to purchase alcohol on your behalf. Or in college, maybe you bought a six-pack for your 20-year-old friends. Or perhaps you have been to parties where adults allowed minors to consume alcoholic drinks.
These may seem like innocuous things to do, but it is no joke if you find yourself charged with buying, serving, or providing alcohol to minors. It’s a crime in Colorado that can stain your permanent record and lead to tougher sentencing down the line. If you are accused of providing alcohol to minors, speak to a Colorado defense attorney right away to avoid long-term consequences.
Providing Alcohol to Minors Is a Crime
We’re all familiar with the fact that you must be at least 21 years of age to consume alcohol in this country. Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-13-12 states that upon a first conviction for underage DUI, a minor can be subject to a fine of up to $250 and have his driver’s license revoked for three months. After a second conviction, the penalties go up to $500 and a six-month suspension. The third time, a minor can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, with fines up to $1,000, up to 12 months in jail, and his driving privileges suspended for one year.
Colorado law enforcement also takes it seriously when adults allow minors to come into possession of alcohol. According to the Colorado Liquor Code, Article 47, Title 12, C.R.S., it is unlawful for any person “to sell, serve, give away, dispose of, exchange, or deliver or permit the sale, serving, giving, or procuring of any alcohol beverage to or for any person under the age of twenty-one years.”
People who violate this law can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. A conviction can include a prison sentence in county jail of at least three months and up to one year. The fines can range from $250 to $1,000.
There’s also a civil penalty for providing alcohol to a minor at a party or in a similar setting. This is known as social host liability law. It means that any time a host knowingly serves alcohol to an minor, that host can be found civilly liable for any property damage, injuries, or fatalities that result from the minor’s intoxication.
It should be noted that there are exceptions in Colorado’s underage drinking ban. For instance, minors may sometimes consume alcohol for medical purposes, for educational purposes, or for religious purposes. It’s also legal for minors to consume alcohol on private property with parental knowledge and consent. This is not a comprehensive or detailed list, and you should speak to a lawyer if you have questions. These exceptions can only be used as defenses in rare situations.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
These laws broadly fall under the category known as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Colorado was the first state to have such laws on the books as far back as 1903, and now all other states have followed suit. Other examples of violations include furnishing cigarettes, marijuana, or narcotics to a minor, or encouraging a minor to engage in a sexual act.
A person deemed to have contributed to the delinquency of a minor can, in addition to being charged with supplying alcohol, also be charged with a Class 4 felony in the state of Colorado. Convictions can lead to up to six years in jail and fines as high as $500,000.
Furthermore, educators who are employed by a Colorado school district or are licensed to teach in the state will have their offense reported to the Department of Education and can face disciplinary action or termination.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
If you look at the penalties involved with providing alcohol to a minor and think that they are overly harsh, you might be right. But the hard truth is that being charged with such a crime can be a life-altering event. There is also a social stigma involved with crimes that involve minors. A conviction can have an impact on your career, your relationships, and your reputation.
If you find yourself charged with supplying alcohol to a minor, your best move is to immediately consult with a Colorado Springs defense attorney and find out what all of your options are. You should do everything in your power to mount a vigorous defense in a proactive manner.
Don’t allow your life to be ruined by a charge of supplying alcohol to a minor. Take action today by calling The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., at (719) 401-0585 for a free consultation.