Like other states, Virginia broadly prohibits people under 21 from drinking alcohol. Minors are not to be at bars, and they should not be served alcohol at other restaurants and eateries.
Police and prosecutors in the Richmond area take these laws seriously and will prosecute dining establishments and their staff who sell alcohol to minors.
Knowingly selling alcohol to minors is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law. This means that a person, even someone with no criminal history, can go to jail for up to 1 year and may have to pay a fine of up to $2,500.
Even if the punishment is not nearly so severe in practice, someone convicted of this offense will have a mark on his or her criminal record.
Administrative penalties, including action against a dining establishment’s liquor license, are also possible. These penalties can cut deeply into an establishment’s revenue and may also involve a fine. Indirectly, a criminal conviction can also lead to civil liability.
Virginia’s liquor laws have a broad reach when applied to owners, staff
Virginia’s law also prohibits the sale to someone who is legally or drunk. The same penalties for selling to minors apply to selling alcohol to someone who is drunk.
Virginia also has a process under which a court can prohibit a person from buying alcohol. The staff of dining establishments must not knowingly serve these people.
Although it carries a lesser punishment, it is also a criminal misdemeanor for a bar owner or staff member not to check a person’s government-issued identification card before serving alcohol to him or her.
It is important to explore defense options if accused of illegally selling alcohol
Someone who is accused of illegally selling alcohol has a lot on the line. In addition to the possibility of criminal penalties, other legal and business problems often follow this type of accusation. There are usually defenses available to these types of accusations.
A person facing an accusation of this type should evaluate his or her legal options carefully.