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What Constitutes Supplying Alcohol to a Minor?

Under federal law, people under the age of 21 are prohibited from drinking alcohol, with some limited exceptions. Additionally, those who are 21 or older are prohibited from selling and, in some circumstances, providing alcohol to people who are underage.

Below is some information to help you determine exactly what constitutes supplying alcohol to a minor:

  • Supplying of alcohol: All states prohibit providing underage people with alcohol, except when it comes to parents providing alcohol to their children (and only their children) in their own home or in religious ceremonies. This is true whether that alcohol is directly sold to the minor or simply supplied to the minor. The law punishes this behavior as a crime.
  • Acts constituting “supplying:” There are a variety of actions that are legally considered “supplying” alcohol. For example, a failure to restrict alcohol access to an underage person in a home is considered supplying alcohol to a minor. So, too, is placing an alcoholic beverage near an underage person intending to allow that person to drink it or buying alcohol and placing it in an underage person’s vehicle.
  • Intent: The element of intent is important in cases involving supplying alcohol to a minor. You cannot be convicted of supplying alcohol to a minor if underage people had alcohol in your presence against your wishes or if you were even indifferent to a minor’s consumption of alcohol.
  • The law affects all people: Not only licensed sellers of alcohol are affected by this law — it affects all people. Even underage people can be convicted of supplying alcohol to minors in certain circumstances.

Again, there are some limited exceptions to these laws. Parents or legal guardians generally have more leeway to allow minor children to drink in their home.

For more information about penalties associated with supplying alcohol to a minor and your options when facing these charges, meet with trusted Berks County criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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