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chad's avatar

I just recieved an underage drinking ticket...

Asked by chad (694points) January 25th, 2008

Wow, I hate to be asking about things like this online, but I was just wondering if anyone with any past experiences with this event/problem had anything helpful to suggest to me.

About a week ago I received an underage drinking ticket from the local police in my college town. I have to go to court and pay a total fine of $145 (court costs + penalty fine) on February 4th. The ticket I was issued states “Consume beer / unfortified wine by person under 21. 18B-302(B)(3)”.

As of right now, I have assumed that I would just have to appear in court at the given time and pay the cost of my fine, but recently I have begun to ponder if I should take the time to hire a lawyer, in case I am in for something that I am not ready to handle on my own.

It should also be noted that I myself was not at the wheel, and this is my first time receiving a ticket whatsoever. If anyone can help or put any input into dilemma, or help me out with suggestions of what I should do, it would be amazing!

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27 Answers

freerangemonkey's avatar

Hmmm. Let me understand this. You are underage, intoxicated and in a car with someone else who was apparently also intoxicated and driving. You didn’t have the sense to tell your intoxicated friend not to drive, and you got pulled over. You could have died and you think a $145 ticket is unreasonable?

Pay the fine and pray to whatever god you believe in that next time you don’t die. Better yet, pray that there isn’t a next time.

sjg102379's avatar

I think it’s important to note that it’s not “just” a ticket, like a parking ticket or a speeding ticket. It’s a summary (as opposed to misdemeanor or felony) offense, and if you pay the ticket, you are admitting your guilt and if future employers, etc, ever ask if you’ve been found guilty of a crime, you have to answer “yes”.
So it depends on if you want to contest the offense at all, or try to work out any deal. If you just want to pay it and have it done with, then just show up and pay. However, it is really common with underage drinking citations to work out a deal where in exchange for community service and/or classes and/or a fine, the charges get dropped so your record remains clean. It’s a good deal for all sides, but you’ll need a lawyer to broker it.

PupnTaco's avatar

Depending on the judge and your appearance/attitude, you may be able to request community service and save the lawyer’s costs.

Act contrite and yes – it could’ve been much worse. Learn from this.

lifeflame's avatar

My boyfriend in college got arrested for this offense, though he was walking home, instead of in a car. He was particulary worried because we were international students in the States, and we didn’t know if he’d have to leave the US. As it was, it was surprisingly hum-drum…he ended up picking up garbage and watching educational videos along with a smattering of fellow offenders.

I don’t think you need to hire a lawyer to broker it, but dress smartly, be humble and sorry, and ask for community service so as to keep your record clean. It’s scary to be hauled up in front of the law, but no doubt a lot of people get hauled up for underage drinking.

jrpowell's avatar

I have had three MIP’s. The first one went like this. I went to court prepared to pay the $150 for the ticket. I talked to the judge for about three minutes and she knocked the ticket down to $50. I paid and walked out. It wasn’t a big deal. I was 19 at the time. If you are under 18 things will likely be very different.

Just go in and pay the fine. I was also in a college town and there were about ten other kids in court for the same thing that day.

kevbo's avatar

I was cited for Minor in Possession when I was 19. It was in my hometown which is not a college town, although I was in college. I dressed in a coat an tie, of course, and the judge heard my story and asked about my school, etc. Before I knew what was happening, he joked “Well, I guess you could say you we’re just exercising your Irish genes… said the Scottish judge!” Naturally, I thought that was the funniest joke I’d ever heard. He then turned and muttered something to the clerk, which turned out to be his dismissal of the charge, so I got off scot-free.

Definitely show up dressed for church. Definitely express contrition. And definitely request some kind of deal to keep it off your record. Options can range from dismissal to “deferred adjudication” where an offense comes off after 6 months provided you keep your nose clean. If you think the officer who cited you will be reasonable, contact him/her and see if the officer is willing to recommend a deal to the judge. You’ll have to do a little bit of song and dance/sob story for the officer, of course.

My sense is that if you present yourself as a productive young member of society, people will cut you slack in these situations.

I wouldn’t hire an attorney unless I was planning to contest the charge.

Good luck.

xgunther's avatar

you should get it expunged off your record if its your first offense

Zaku's avatar

I’d consult a lawyer, at least one who’ll give you a basic opinion without charging you.

Seems to me they should need to catch you in the act of drinking, or else you could have been getting intoxicated in private or out of their jurisdiction. I.e. likely they have no direct evidence you were breaking the letter of the law, and you don’t need to incriminate yourself.

Cardinal's avatar

Hmmm. Let ME understand this. You are underage, intoxicated and you could have been driving the car….......that about it? It sounds to me like you are way more concerned about your hide then the damage you may have caused. So you weren’t driving, but it reads like you very well could have been driving. I am retired and have lived in one of the most backward states in the country and now in a very progressive one. Unless human nature has changed considerable and if you had killed someone driving drunk, there may be a judge, jury and executioner looking for you! BTW if anyone takes it upon themself to take legal matters in their own hands. They will be very hard to deter!

just do not drink and drive!

Zaku's avatar

@Cardinal: Chad said he was not driving, and I don’t get the impression you got that he could have been, nor that the driver was, nor that he was in public or even unsupervised while drinking. Having drunk alcohol and being driven around doesn’t generally cause any damage, and is suggested as the right thing to do when intoxicated. The ticket is about consuming while under 21.

chad's avatar

Just to follow-up with everyone that took the time to write up a response, I went to court this past Monday, and used my prayer-for-judgment, with is in effect for 3 years or so, and the judge allowed it. He also lowered my ticket to an even $100.

Cardinal, I was not driving, as Zaku pointed out. Thank you all for responding! Stupid crap like this won’t be happening again, and if it does for some reason, my butt is passing out at the place I’m drinking!

Beckquador24's avatar

In my area which isn’t a college town most first time offenders are ordered to attend a reality class pay court cost and in many cases 1 year of unsupervised probation.
If you don’t get any tickets during that year the offense is expunged from your record.
More or less its a slap on the wrist.

Zaku's avatar

What’s “a reality class” like, I wonder?

Beckquador24's avatar

You watch police footage of drug and alcohol related stops and crashes.
Your taught and tested on dui laws.
Take a trip to the funeral home to plan your own funeral.
Its effectiveness it questionable in my opinion

Zaku's avatar

So I gather you are talking about what they do in your town for DUI rather than for simply being young and drinking in public (which is what this topic is)?

Beckquador24's avatar

No you go to jail for a DUI
You get reality for basically and alcohol related charge other than DUI
Of course if you have a prior record they are less lenient

Zaku's avatar

Wow, another American law that assumes everyone drives a car (and that collapses unrelated items to reduce risk). Interesting! Thanks for explaining that.

Robby's avatar

You play hard you pay hard.. But if your not a career criminal and you do not have a serious record they might throw it away or some community service. However a lawyer can be a great idea because chances would greatly increase the chance of it being tossed out and not having it on your record. Or simply take your medicine like a man.. Sorry if that was to blunt..

Rastamon's avatar

Be glad you’re alive.

You could be dead right now.
You could be paralyzed, right now.

Some people, in your same situation had a .. more severe punishment.
Let this be a lesson.

Zaku's avatar

Again, this wasn’t about DUI, it was just about being under 21 and consuming alcohol.

In many civilized countries, there are no “underage drinking” laws.

buster's avatar

i had three of them before i was 21. i would check guilty on my tickets and pay them at the police station and then i didnt have to go to court. i dont know how it works there though. pay all your fines and court costd right after court. if you dont they might put you on supervised probation until you pay off the fines and court costs.

girlofscience's avatar

@sjg102379: You are incorrect. Having been “convicted of a crime” consists only as having plead guilty or been found guilty for misdemeanor and felony offenses. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a summary offense, you are still not considered to have ever been “convicted of a crime,” and thus, you need not answer “yes” on an employment application.

girlofscience's avatar

@freerangemonkey: Oh, come fucking on.

waterskier2007's avatar

a lot of colleges or universities have Student Legal Services, that are free through your tuition. you can always go there and at least talk with a lawyer, sometimes they know of loopholes that you dont. here is the example of the SLS at my university

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

it is off topic but my uncle got a DUI for riding a bike home so as to not reak curfew, but also not to drive while intoxicated. His older brother got one for walking home drunk

deaddolly's avatar

take your lumps for a stupid decision. I doubt this will go on your record, ask the judge.
Dress nice and act remorseful. Admit you were an idiot. No need for a lawyer…I’m sure the court room will be full of kids in the same boat you are.

Hope you learned your lesson. If you’re gonna drink, stay away from cars.

mij's avatar

Don’ t stress out kid! It’s happened, face the judge honestly and put it down to experience.
Your on a steep learning curve now…

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