It is important to remember that in Massachusetts it is a crime to possess alcohol under the age of 21. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34C states that “[w]hoever, being under twenty-one years of age and not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, knowingly possesses, transports or carries on his person, any alcohol or alcoholic beverages, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars for the first offense and not more than one hundred and fifty dollars for a second or subsequent offense; …. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be reported forthwith to the registrar of motor vehicles by the court, and said registrar shall thereupon suspend for a period of ninety days the license of such person to operate a motor vehicle.”
What does this mean for you, well it means if you are caught by the police for underage possession of alcohol you can be arrested. Although this crime does not carry a jail sentence it is still a criminal charge that will appear on your criminal record. It is also important to remember that the ramifications for such a crime go beyond just being arrested. Although a first offense only carries a fine of fifty dollars and a second offense a fine of one hundred and fifty dollars if you receive a conviction for the criminal charge your license must be suspended for 90 days. Not only will the conviction result in a suspended license, but you will have to pay a reinstatement fee to the RMV and most likely your insurance will use the license suspension to drastically increase your insurance premiums.
However, there are many avenues that can be pursued by an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you out. In some cases your attorney may be able to negotiate a dismissal on court costs, pre-trial probation or a continuation without a finding. In each of these possible outcomes your license would be saved and the collateral consequences avoided.
David Newton, Esq.