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Minors buying alcohol more likely to face penalties than stores

Drinking alcohol has become more and more common amongst children and teenagers in the United States. The law says that no one under the age of 21 can buy or possess alcohol; yet underage drinking seems to be everywhere.

If a minor is caught buying alcohol, both he and the store where he purchased it from could face serious penalties. Statistics show that in 2014, the Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents were more likely to issue arrest warrants to minors buying or possessing alcohol than to the stores selling to them. The arrests made by the ABC make up a small percentage of the nearly 10,000 arrests statewide for liquor law violations and 32,000 for drunkenness. Some say that the purpose of the ABC is not to arrest people but, for now, this is part of their job.

Last year, these ABC agents made 397 arrests related to illegally purchasing alcohol. Out of these arrests, the unauthorized purchase of alcohol by people under the age of 21 accounted for 343 of these. The other arrests involved adults over 21 buying alcohol for those under 21 or the use of fake IDs. In total, about 377 arrests involved the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.

ABC agents also made arrests connected with drugs, particularly marijuana, resisting arrests or assaulting a law enforcement officer. In fact, nearly 20 percent of arrests made have nothing to do with alcohol. In total, ABC agents arrested 1,157 people who are facing a total of 1,394 charges.

When all is said and done, juveniles who buy or possess alcohol could be in a world of trouble if they are caught doing so. However, there are ways to defend themselves against harsh penalties.

Source: The Washington Post, "In Virginia ABC arrest numbers, tilt is toward buyers rather than sellers," Rachel Weiner and T. Rees Shapiro, March 28, 2015

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