Virginia Law on Underage Possession of Alcohol: Va. Code § 4.1-305

Underage possession of alcohol is a common crime in college towns. Underage possession of alcohol in Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia. This statute prohibits both underage possession of alcohol AND a fake ID to purchase alcohol by persons under 21.

What is Underage possession of alcohol in Virginia?

A. No person to whom an alcoholic beverage may not lawfully be sold under § 4.1-304 shall consume, purchase or possess, or attempt to consume, purchase or possess, any alcoholic beverage, except (i) pursuant to subdivisions 1 through 7 of § 4.1-200; (ii) where possession of the alcoholic beverages by a person less than 21 years of age is due to such person’s making a delivery of alcoholic beverages in pursuance of his employment or an order of his parent; or (iii) by any state, federal, or local law-enforcement officer or his agent when possession of an alcoholic beverage is necessary in the performance of his duties. Such person may be prosecuted either in the county or city in which the alcohol was possessed or consumed, or in the county or city in which the person exhibits evidence of physical indicia of consumption of alcohol. It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of a violation of this subsection if the defendant shows that such consumption or possession was pursuant to subdivision 7 of § 4.1-200

B. No person under the age of 21 years shall use or attempt to use any (i) altered, fictitious, facsimile or simulated license to operate a motor vehicle, (ii) altered, fictitious, facsimile or simulated document, including, but not limited to a birth certificate or student identification card, or (iii) motor vehicle operator’s license, birth certificate or student identification card of another person in order to establish a false identification or false age for himself to consume, purchase or attempt to consume or purchase an alcoholic beverage.

Va. Code § 4.1-305

How is Underage Possession punished in Virginia?

As mentioned above, Underage Possession of Alcohol is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia. If convicted, you can be ordered to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or ordered to do a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service along with probation. Your driving license can also be suspended for 6 months to a year.

Deferred Disposition for First-Time Offenders in Virginia

This program is for someone who hasn’t previously been convicted of this charge. The court can require a defendant to complete requirements such as probation, alcohol abuse classes, license suspension, and community service. In exchange, the Court will dismiss the charges IF you are able to complete all requirements successfully.

While this sounds like a great option, and it is for many, it does not come without strings attached. Please read our detailed explanation of the Deferred Disposition program here.

Should you get an attorney?

Yes. A class 1 misdemeanor charge is the most serious type of misdemeanor. It can carry severe implications for your future, ranging from college applications to job applications. Even when assessing whether you should take a deferred disposition, it is best to consult with an experienced criminal attorney before making up your mind.

It can be tempting to take a deferred disposition in hopes of getting your case ultimately dismissed. However, a deferred disposition also brings with it many requirements that you have to satisfy to a tee. For many defendants, it imposes heavy restrictions and can be a source of constant stress. Any probation violations can result in their own criminal charge. While it absolutely is a great option for many, you should still have an experienced criminal attorney take a look at the facts of your case to determine the best option for you.

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