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Underage Drinking in Columbus




    Underage DUI/OVI • Underage Consumption • Fake ID

    If you or your child are charged with an alcohol-related offense, contact the Columbus underage drinking attorneys at Riddell Law for a free consultation.

    We work diligently and aggressively to protect the rights of underage clients charged with alcohol-related offenses, and works to ensure that the charges brought have the least possible impact on the young person’s life and criminal record.


    What are the Potential Penalties if I Plead Guilty to Underage Drinking?

    You must be age 21 to legally drink in Ohio. Underage consumption of alcohol is a third degree misdemeanor and can carry penalties including:

    • A misdemeanor criminal record
    • Possible community service, alcohol education classes and/or probation
    • Potential jail term of up to 60 days
    • Fines up to $500 plus court costs

    Is there Any Chance of Getting the Underage Drinking Charge Off My Record in Columbus?

    In every case, we examine potential defenses to the charge.  This could include, for example, looking into whether the police overstepped in conducting a search or a lack of reasonable suspicion for stopping the underage person.

    Further, we look to the availability of a diversion program.  If our client qualifies and is accepted into a diversion program in Franklin County, the charges would be dismissed and record of the charge could be expunged.  If you have been charged with underage drinking in Columbus, talk to one of our attorneys about the availability of diversion.

    Is an Underage Person Allowed to Drink with Parental Permission?

    Spouses over 21 and legal guardians (parents) may provide alcohol to minors. However, the parent must be present and supervising at the time the alcohol is consumed.

    Another person’s parent cannot give permission.  Your parent giving permission over the phone or otherwise also is not enough.

    Your own parent or guardian must be physically present and supervising for the exception to apply.

    What is the Legal Limit for Underage Drinking?

    There is really no legal limit – the limit is effectively 0.0.

    Under Ohio law (R.C. 4301.69), it is illegal for an underage person to “order, pay for, share the cost of, attempt to purchase, possess, or consume any beer or intoxicating liquor in any public or private place.”

    The City of Columbus has a similar statue with language that is very similar to the language found in the state code. Columbus City Code 2325.632.  The local Columbus statute is the same but adds “either from a sealed or unsealed container or by the glass or by the drink.”  This means that the beer or alcohol doesn’t have to even be opened for you to be charged.

    This means that even just ordering a beer or sharing the cost of a beer with someone else – even if you do not actually drink anything – is generally against the law in Ohio.

    Can Police Enter My House or Porch Without a Warrant and Cite Someone for Underage Drinking?

    It depends.  Normally, police must have a warrant to enter a person’s home.  But there are a few exceptions that might apply:

    • Underage people are drinking in plain view of the officers (on the porch, in the front yard, in front of an open window)
    • Front door is open and anyone is invited in (open house party)
    • You invite them in (even if they are undercover and you do not know they are police)
    • Police have a reasonable belief that someone is in danger inside (someone is passed out, a fight is breaking out)

    However, there have been recent cases in Ohio where underage drinking charges were thrown out due to warrantless entry. Examples include:

    • Police responded to a noise complaint. Although partygoers were leaving, police entered a closed front door and cited an overnight guest inside for underage drinking. The case was thrown out due to the unconstitutional warrantless entry by police. Read more about that Ohio underage drinking case here.
    • Police responded to a noise complaint. Police knocked on the door and saw through the open door a woman who looked under 21 running to the back of the house. Police entered and cited the resident for furnishing alcohol to an underage person. The case was thrown out due to the unconstitutional warrantless entry by police. Exigent circumstances does not apply to misdemeanors, such as underage drinking. Read more about that Ohio underage drinking case here.


    Using a fake driver’s license or other identification to obtain alcohol is a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties may include:

    • Alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment program
    • Fines up to $1000 plus surcharges and court costs
    • Possible imprisonment
    • Driver’s license suspension


    Simply possessing alcoholic beverages in public or in a car can result in misdemeanor charges, fines, and possible imprisonment for anyone under 21.

    See here for more information about open container laws in Columbus.


    The State of Ohio has increased penalties for drinking and driving by underage drivers.

    While adults must have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 to be charged with an OVI in Ohio, anyone under age 21 can be charged with an OVI for having a trace amount of alcohol in their system (.02 BAC). Doug Riddell has extensive experience representing both minors and adults in DUI/OVI offenses, and can offer an affordable flat fee to help you navigate the criminal justice system for the best possible outcome.

    Other consequences

    In addition to criminal prosecution, students drinking underage may face further consequences for underage drinking.  For example, our attorneys represent high school and college students facing suspension from school, as well as suspension from athletic teams or other sanctions, relating to zero-tolerance alcohol policy violations.

    In every alcohol-related offense, our attorneys thoroughly examine the facts of the case and advise clients on the merits of contesting the charges or negotiating a plea bargain to a lesser offense with fewer consequences.   If there are defenses available to the search (such as a warrantless search of a private home), we would explore those with the client and raise the defenses in court.  Ultimately, our goal is to minimize the impact of the charges on the young person’s life.

    To begin the process and discuss representation for your Columbus, Ohio underage drinking, fake ID or other under-21 charge, call us directly at 614-361-2804, email at doug@riddelllaw.com, or fill out the confidential contact form to the right.  

    Because we know underage drinking and other under-21 charges rarely happen during 9:00-5:00 working hours, we are there to take your call after hours, on evenings, weekends, and holidays.