Underage consumption of alcohol is a crime that is not taken lightly in the state of Minnesota. Specifically, Minnesota state law prohibits any person under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol in nearly all cases under statute M.S.340A.503. Those found to be in violation of this law, including adults who illegally furnish alcohol to minors, can face consequences ranging from fines and civil liability charges to jail and/or prison time in serious cases.
As with any Minnesota crime, however, there are potential defenses against an underage drinking charge. If you or a loved one has recently been charged with underage consumption, Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Kirk Anderson is here to help.
Defenses of Underage Drinking in Minnesota
While every case is unique, there are a couple of common defenses used against underage drinking in Minnesota that may apply to your case.
Suppression of Evidence
In some instances, the evidence used to “prove” that a minor consumed alcohol could be suppressed by an experienced criminal defense attorney in court. Most often, this is an option when a minor submitted to a breath test prior to being charged with consumption. It is not uncommon for teenagers to not fully understand their rights when being asked to submit to a breath test.
It may even be the case that a police officer has coerced a minor into taking a breath test without full consent. When this happens, a criminal defense attorney may request to have the breath test results suppressed as evidence in court, which may be enough to have charges dropped or reduced.
Even when a minor does knowingly consent to a breath test, it is possible that the results of the test can be disputed, questioned, or suppressed in court. However, getting this kind of evidence suppressed can be a challenge, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney who has handled underage drinking cases like yours in the past.
Proving Parental Consent
One unique aspect of Minnesota’s otherwise-strict underage consumption law is that the state does permit underage consumption of alcohol when the minor has parental permission and drinks in his or her own home. With this type of defense, the parents or guardians of the minor in-question would need to affirm that they gave permission for the consumption to take place.
It’s important to understand the limitations of this defense, however. The consumption must still take place inside the minor’s home where he or she lives with parents or guardians. This means that a parental consent defense cannot be used in a situation where a minor was caught drinking at a friend’s house.
Parental consent also doesn’t excuse a case where a minor is caught under the influence while driving, even if the teen is under the legal limit. This is because Minnesota has a strict “not-a-drop” law that prohibits underage drivers from operating motor vehicles with any amount of alcohol in their systems.
Our Minneapolis criminal defense attorney will work tirelessly to defend your underage drinking charge in court. However, even if a justifiable legal defense does not exist for your case, we may be able to assist you in seeking a diversion program for this charge. With a diversion, it is often possible to avoid a conviction (and thus a criminal charge on your record) if you complete an alcohol education class, community service, or other conditions set forth by a judge.
Let Minneapolis Criminal Attorney Anderson Law Firm Represent You
Our team at Anderson Law Firm is here to help you navigate this stressful time. Don’t take on a Minnesota underage drinking charge without legal guidance; schedule your free case evaluation and consultation today by calling our office at (952) 582-2904 anytime, day or night. You can also contact us through our website to get started.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.