Minors, Alcohol and Virginia Law

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Did You Know...?

Alcohol is the most frequently abused drug.

A minor is anyone under 21 years old with respect to beer, wine or liquor.

It Is A Crime In Virginia For...

Minors to consume, purchase or possess alcoholic beverages.

Parents or other adults to contribute to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the purchase or use of alcoholic beverages.

Anyone (minors, parents or other adults) to...

  • Purchase alcoholic beverages for minors.
  • Sell alcoholic beverages to minors.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages in a public place (i.e., street or parking lot).
  • Sell alcoholic beverages without a license to minors or adults, in a home or any other unlicenced place.
  • Possess a false identification card or birth certificate.
  • Operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a self-administered drug.


The Penalties Can Be...

  • A fine up to $1,000 (including a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service).
  • A jail sentence of up to one year.

Use And Lose...

  • Virginia’s “use and lose" law, which took effect in Virginia on July 1, 1989, significantly affects a teenager’s privilege to drive a car, whether or not you now have a driver's license. Here is what it means:
  • If you are age 17 or younger, if a judge finds you guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in addition to being adjudged a delinquent and facing possible jail time, a fine or probation, you lose your driver’s license, or your ability to get one, for one year or until age 17, whichever is longer. If this happens again, you lose your license for another year or until age 18, whichever is longer.
  • If you are age 17 or younger, if a judge finds you guilty of consuming, buying or possessing alcohol, you lose your driver’s license, or your ability to apply for one, for six months.  If you are under age 16 years and 3 months, you cannot apply for a driver’s license until you reach 16 years and 9 months.


What’s More...

  • Alcohol possessed by minors is deemed to be contraband and may be confiscated by the state.
  • If personal injury, property damage or death occurs as a result of the illegal use of alcohol by minors, parents and other adults involved could face a costly court action.
  • The cost and availability of automobile liability insurance also may be affected by alcohol-related negligence or misconduct.
  • Many localities have curfews that apply to minors in public places at certain hours. Parents should be aware of their local restrictions.


Revised Apr 14, 2014
prepared by the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar

Related content at So You're 18.

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Updated: Apr 06, 2018