Whenever you consume enough alcohol to dramatically change your mental or physical state, you run the risk of breaking the law. In most cases, alcohol-related crimes are misdemeanors. But the involvement of alcohol is often enough to turn a lesser crime into a more serious offense.
Drinking and Driving Carries Numerous Penalties
Driving after drinking is the most serious alcohol-related crime, because you're risking the safety of others as well as yourself. Depending on where you live, the charge may be "driving under the influence" or "driving while intoxicated." Some states use one of the acronyms, and some use both.
Typically, a DUI or DWI is a serious offense. It can be a felony charge if you're in an accident and hurt someone, or if it's your second or third offense. In some states, you don't even have to register as intoxicated on a test. If you're obviously drunk, that's enough for a police officer to arrest you.
Minors Can't Purchase Alcohol or Drink in Bars
It's illegal for anyone under 21 years old to buy alcohol, or to drink alcohol in a public place like a bar or restaurant. Some states are more lenient about minors drinking at their own or someone else's home. In many states, minors can drink at home or on private property, but only with parental consent.
Adults who allow children to drink are liable for their actions. In some states, adults are criminal liable only if they allow a minor to drive after drinking. It's always illegal to sell alcohol to a minor.
Public Intoxication Is a Crime
Any time you consume alcohol in public, such as at a bar or ballgame, you run the risk of arrest if your drinking gets out of hand. Public intoxication - called a "PI offense," becomes a crime if a police officer feels that you're a danger to yourself or others. It is usually a misdemeanor and, depending on your actions, you might receive probation instead of jail time. However, you'll have a criminal record.
Alcohol Consumption Can Lead to Domestic Violence
Statistics show a link between alcohol and domestic violence. Drinking at home is not public intoxication, but if you lose your temper and hurt a loved one, it contributes to a crime. A judge can sentence you to mandatory counseling, probation, fines, or even jail time.
A Criminal Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding alcohol consumption and crimes is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a criminal lawyer.