Who knows the legal drinking age in California? Oh, that’s right…everyone. One of the most commonly known regulations in California law is that people under the age of 21 are not allowed to be in possession of an alcoholic beverage in public or to consume any alcoholic beverage.
Getting caught with alcohol as a minor can lead to hefty punishments, ranging from$250-500 and from 24-48 hours of community service, depending on the number of offenses. Second-time offenders can also lose their licenses for up to a year. However, contrary to popular belief, jail time is not a punishment stemming from possession of alcohol for a minor. Even more, you do not need to be in physical possession of the alcohol to be charged.
In a few rare instances, minors can be immune from being charged for being in possession of alcohol. Self-reporting one’s own consumption to the police via 9-1-1 calls provides immunity for the caller, so long as the call is to help another person get medical assistance. This only works if the underage drinking is not is not related to whatever made the drinking so egregious, like driving drunk.
Underage persons can legally be in possession of alcohol, too, so long as it is under instruction from a person over 21. These instructions are limited, as one might imagine, to circumstances where the elder individual calls upon the underage person to throw away a beverage or deliver it from the car to the house. One between the ages of 18 and 21 may also serve alcohol to others at a restaurant.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, or their professional license is at risk, contact Attorney Miranda McCroskey for an immediate consultation at (714) 389-2257 or email her at miranda@mccroskeylegal.com.

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