Over the last 20 years, criminal defense attorney Steve Toland has counseled families during difficult times involving their minors and alcohol. Today, Steve wraps up his Minors & Alcohol in Texas series with four tips for parents to discuss alcohol with their minors.
1. Explain to them what the law is.
Often, children go off to college, and there are parties where alcohol is freely served and forget that underage drinking is still against the law. So, what is the law? If you are under 21, the law states you are not allowed to consume alcohol, and you cannot possess it. That means touch it, hold it, or be immediately accessible to alcohol.
2. Identify areas of risk for them
It’s vital when kids start going to high school parties or ride around in cars with others to be aware of the scenarios where they could be charged with alcohol possession. Some risk areas are tailgate parties, football games, house parties, in a car, at a nightclub, being outside a house holding a drink for a friend, etc.
3. Teach them about constructive possession.
Constructive possession includes touching alcohol, in control of alcohol, or an immediate reachable area of alcohol. For example, you are in a car, and there’s a 12 pack of beer, anyone who has access to that alcohol, even if you’re not actively holding it, could be charged with minor in possession through the doctrine of constructive possession. Another typical example is when you’re at a table, and there’s a pitcher of beer, and there are cups around. Even if you’re not holding one of the cups, a minor can be charged.
4.Talk to them about the emergency medical exception.
If a minor is scared and thinks that they or a friend has had way too much to drink, they can notify emergency personnel and not be charged. However, you must call and wait for help to arrive and cooperate by telling the truth. If a minor does all that, they will not be liable under the criminal charge of minor in possession or minor in alcohol consumption. Even if they have alcohol on them or have consumed alcohol, they can be immune from that liability.
The emergency medical exception is very important for minors to know, so they are not afraid to ask for help when they believe that they or a friend is in danger of alcohol poisoning.
If you have any questions about these issues or need help with your minor on applying for college if they have a record, reach out to us here at Peek & Toland, we’re always glad to help.