What Happens When You're Caught Drinking Underage

Drinking occurs at most colleges. Saturday Night Live recently had fun with UCONN in a recent sketch in which our flagship state university was the setting for a class of students who got caught drinking. I didn't go to UCONN but I know enough people who did and represented clients who were caught drinking underage there. The legal drinking age in Connecticut and every other state is still 21, making most college students underage and most drinking on college campuses (statistically speaking) underage as well. In the students trade drinking stories while Kristen Stewart, playing (very convincingly) a lush, tops and shocks them with her own stories. 

In real life Connecticut, anyone underage, whether at college or not, may be ticketed for possession of alcohol by a minor. The offense is one of possession, not consumption. It is also illegal to make a false statement in an effort to procure alcohol, to provide underage people with alcohol and to use a fake I.D. (that one is actually a misdemeanor). The ticket is punishable directly by a fine and indirectly by a driver's license suspension. Out-of-state residents receive suspensions of their non-resident driving privileges. The suspension is triggered by a conviction which can be by paying the ticket or losing in court. 

Colleges might punish students internally, subjecting them to housing sanctions, a class or other program. They could also get the police involved, which would lead to the tickets being issued. 

If you receive a minor in possession ticket and don't want to lose your driving privileges, you should plead not guilty and go to court. I've been very successful defending young people charged with this offense. I've resolved many through community service, a class (which probably isn't like the one on SNL) and other deals. Connecticut also has a diversionary program for underage drinking and motor vehicle (but not DUI) offenses. 

I've represented students from UCONN, Central, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Western and other schools in Connecticut and kids from Connecticut who go to schools out-of-state. I've even reopened many cases which were already headed to license suspensions. Although I was fortunate to not have been cited for underage drinking when I was underage, I could have been. Now I'm too old to be drinking underage. Instead I make the rounds in courts around the state, including Bridgeport, Danbury, Middletown, Meriden, New Haven, New Britain, Waterbury, Rockville (where UCONN goes), Derby and New London. 



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