First, if you suspect your child is drinking and is not 21, you need to have a discussion with him or her about your suspicions. If you’re seeing behavior changes or physical changes such as red eyes or you smell alcohol on his or her breath, these are indications that you should have the conversation before the authorities become involved. Other indications of alcohol use may be alcohol missing from cans or bottles in your home, overuse of breath mints or mouthwash, skipping school, borrowing money more frequently, aggressive or rebellious behavior, abruptly changing friends, lower grades, hiding alcohol, or any kind of intoxicated behavior such as slurring speech or uncoordinated movements.
Do your research. Talk to other parents to find out what they know about a particular event. Be straightforward and ask your child but don’t be confrontational. For example, you might say “I talked to Jim’s mom about last night and she said you weren’t there. When you got home your eyes were bloodshot and you were stumbling around. What’s going on?”
Though this is not an easy conversation to have, it is one of the most important you may ever have with your child. Be sure you impose consequences for those behaviors, and stick to it. Remove alcohol or put it under lock and key in your home. Remember when you toddler-proofed your home? It’s similar, only teen proofing may require a greater degree of grown-up inconvenience.
If you suspect serious trouble, remember that privacy is a privilege that is earned, not automatically granted. Look through your child’s backpack and room, monitor behavior, and be a caring parent.
Within the legal aspects of underage drinking, there are three elements; possession, consumption, and public intoxication. It is illegal to drink under the age of 21 in Ohio and possession or consumption of alcohol is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and a 6-month jail term.
Drinking underage may lead to driving while intoxicated which will lead to significant legal issues. Time in jail, fines, license suspension, probation, large fines, and community service are all possibilities.
If you or your child has been charged with an alcohol-related offense in Central Ohio, don’t roll the dice and hope it all comes out okay. You need to actively defend your child to the greatest extent possible. Their future depends on it. You need the representation of a skilled attorney who can help navigate the treacherous legal landscape. The Maher Law Firm can help make sure that your child’s rights are protected. Call The Maher Law Firm today for a free consultation at 614-205-2208 or contact us online.