Are Minors Allowed to Drink in Their Parent’s Home?
Ohio law recognizes a very limited set of exceptions to its law that only people older than 21 can drink alcohol. Specifically, teens and young adults who are “supervised by a parent, spouse who is not an underage person, or legal guardian” can legally possess and consume beer, wine, or liquor in a private residence. The “supervised by an adult” exception does not extend to public places, and it does not cover other people’s children or spouses.
The best way to understand when and where Ohioans under the age of 21 can drink is to consider a few typical scenarios.
When It’s OK to Drink While Underage in Ohio
- A mother lets her 16-year-old daughter enjoy a glass of wine during Sunday dinner in the family’s dining room.
- A 21-year-old wife shares a couple of beers with her 20-year-old husband in their backyard after work on Friday.
- An adoptive parent welcomes his 18-year-old son home from college on winter break with a glass of eggnog spiked with rum.
When It’s Illegal to Drink While Underage in Ohio
- A father orders his 16-year-old son a beer and a shot at the local bar.
- The father chaperones a party for his son’s high school friends at which alcohol is served.
- The young married couple mentioned above hosts a party that spills out onto their front lawn, where neighbors and police can see the husband drinking.
- People other than the husband are also seen with beers and mixed drinks at the party.
- The 18-year-old college student receives a gift of booze in the mail from his adoptive parent.
When an underage person is caught drinking or possessing alcohol, both that youngster and the adult who sold or supplied the beverage can be cited for violating the law. A long list of underage drinking offenses appears elsewhere on this website. It includes buying alcohol for a minor, using false identification to purchase alcohol, and traveling in a car or truck with an open container (including a cup or glass) of alcohol.
Most violations of Ohio’s alcohol laws are treated like traffic tickets. The principal punishment is a fine and court costs. In addition to monetary penalties, violating underage drinking laws can result in the suspension or revocation of a business’, bartender’s, or server’s license. Having a criminal record can also cost a young person employment and educational opportunities, so fighting a charge with the help of an Ohio underage drinking attorney often makes sense.
A Note on Underage DUI
Drinking and driving, which state statutes call operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), is treated as a serious crime. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration for a person younger than 21 is .02, which many people can reach by drinking a single beer over the course of an hour. Fighting an OVI charge with the help of a DUI attorney in Columbus Ohio, always makes sense.
You can request a free consultation of underage drinking offenses and defenses by contacting an Ohio underage drinking attorney with The Maher Law Firm by calling (614) 205-2208 or filling out our online contact form.