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Under 21 alcohol offenses and penalties

A lot of Kansas City teens can't wait to turn 18. What many young people may not realize is, technically, they can be adults and minors at the same time. If you're younger than 21, you are underage when it comes to state alcohol laws.

Only Kansas residents 21 and older may possess, drink or buy alcoholic beverages. Each of these actions is a separate offense for minors. Drunk driving may be the first alcohol-related juvenile crime that comes to mind, but there are plenty of other ways young defendants violate alcohol laws, obtain criminal records and suffer consequences.

An underage person can be charged with possession for transporting alcoholic beverages, whether or not the containers are open or alcohol is being consumed. Did you realize underage drinking by another minor can cause legal trouble? You can be charged with a crime, if another person under 21 is drinking alcohol in the same moving vehicle.

Minors are not protected from possession by consuming alcohol on private property. In some situations – a criminal defense attorney can explain – police may enter a residence and arrest minors observed breaking alcohol laws.

Your actions also may affect someone else like an older friend, sibling or other family member. Adults and minors may be arrested for supplying underage drinkers and other minors with alcohol or the means to obtain alcohol -- namely fake identifications.

It is a felony to make, copy, sell or solicit any form of fake IDs. A convicted felon faces lifetime hardships including the inability to obtain financial aid for college and employment. Possessing and trying to use someone else's identification or a fake ID are crimes.

Other possible consequences for alcohol-related offenses: fines, juvenile detention or jail time, mandatory alcohol education or treatment and drivers' license suspensions. A criminal defense attorney can help minors in trouble challenge charges and fight for dismissal or reduced penalties.

Source: City of Lawrence Kansas, "Legal Consequences of Underage Involvement with Alcohol," accessed May. 29, 2015

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