Image of a young man drinking a beer, representing Indiana underage drinking laws.

Indiana Underage Drinking Laws and Penalties

We all make mistakes in our teen years, but the indiscretion of underage drinking can have serious long-term consequences. If your child is accused of underage drinking or possession of alcohol, you need to understand how Indiana underage drinking laws apply and what you can do to protect your child’s best interests.

Consulting with experienced Indiana underage drinking lawyers, like those at Camden & Meridew, P.C., ensures that you learn more about applicable laws and how they pertain to your child’s case.

An Overview of Indiana Underage Drinking Laws

Indiana takes a strict stance on underage drinking. For the purpose of alcohol regulation in Indiana, a “minor” is defined by Indiana Code § 7.1-1-3-25 as a person under the age of 21. Per Indiana Code § 7.1-5-7-7, minors are not allowed to possess alcohol or consume it.

Minors caught drinking or illegally possessing alcohol in Indiana may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they are 18 or older. If the minor is under the age of 18, he or she may be adjudicated as a “delinquent child,” unless the court decides to charge the child as an adult.

Parents of minors accused of having possessed and/or consumed alcohol should be aware of the potential impacts criminal charges or juvenile adjudications can have on their lives.

Penalties for Underage Drinking in Indiana

If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, your child could face a fine of as much as $500 and up to 60 days in jail. A minor who is 18 to 20 years old and drinks and drives or transports alcohol in a vehicle without a parent or guardian in the car can have his or her driver’s license suspended for one year. If your minor is a college student, underage drinking charges could also lead to student misconduct proceedings and academic consequences.

Children under the age of 18 are generally processed through the Indiana Juvenile Justice System. If the juvenile court finds that your child committed the “delinquent act” of possessing, consuming, or transporting alcohol in a vehicle without a parent or guardian, he or she can be deemed a delinquent child.

Generally speaking, Indiana’s juvenile system seeks to rehabilitate, rather than punish. Depending on the circumstance of your child’s case, he or she may be ordered to complete a program that involves treatment or rehabilitation, and/or the court could decide that detention in a juvenile facility is warranted.

These are just some of the consequences your child and family could face as a result of underage drinking in Indiana. However, there may be options available that can lessen these penalties. Experienced Indiana underage drinking lawyers can help ensure your child is protected and his or her legal defense is thorough and effective.

Defenses under Indiana Underage Drinking Laws

A strong underage drinking defense starts with a thorough investigation into what happened. For example, a breathalyzer used in a traffic stop may have registered results incorrectly or been uncalibrated. Likewise, the law enforcement officer administering sobriety tests at the scene may have done so incorrectly, potentially rendering the results inadmissible.

The Indiana Lifeline Law (Indiana Code § 7.1-5-1-6.5) provides immunity to people who seek emergency medical assistance for themselves or others while they are intoxicated. If your child requested assistance from law enforcement or medical personnel, he or she may not be subject to the legal penalties otherwise allowed under Indiana underage drinking laws.

These are just a couple of examples of defenses Indiana underage drinking lawyers can use to minimize or eliminate the consequences of underage drinking. A qualified defense attorney will review the details of your child’s case and advise you on the best strategies for legal defense, including whether the Indiana Lifeline Law applies.

Understanding Indiana Underage Drinking Laws: Contact an Attorney

Don’t leave your child’s future to chance. Call Josiah J. Swinney at Camden & Meridew, P.C. to set up a consultation. Mr. Swinney will conduct a thorough investigation and provide the strongest defense possible for your child. He will also communicate clearly and compassionately to help you understand Indiana underage drinking laws and how they apply in your circumstances. Call 317-770-0000 or fill out our online contact form to start fighting for your child’s rights today.