The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has partnered with the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax to start an initiative to prevent parents from providing teens with alcohol. The partnership focused on the month of May with particular concern because of proms and graduations. The board and the UPC have started a program called “Parents who Host Lose the Most.” Both groups are working to teach people that providing alcohol to teens can have significant legal and medical consequences.
Possession of alcohol by a minor in Fairfax or anywhere in Virginia is a violation of statute 4.1-305. Violations of this law are frequently punished by requiring community service and a loss of license. It surprises many people that even if no vehicles or driving are involved simply holding a beer when you are underage can cost a teen the ability to drive for up to 6 months. Additionally any parents found to have supplied alcohol to a minor can be punished significantly. Even the parents can possibly lose their driver’s licenses for an extended period of time.
Additionally, common sense indicates that youngsters who engage in alcohol use are likely to have legal problems beyond simple possession charges. If a teen has little experience with alcohol they are certainly more likely to get arrested for fighting, more likely to make bad decisions about drug use, and above all are far more likely to get arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Virginia’s DWI law is different for individuals under the legal drinking age. 18.2-266.1 regulates this behavior. That statute makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02 or above. This is an extremely low standard. In fact, in most people that BAC can likely be accomplished by consuming only one beer. A violation of 18.2-266.1 is frequently referred to as a “baby DWI”. While it is different than a regular DWI the consequences are often very similar including a possible 12 month suspension of a teen’s right to drive in Virginia.
While many parents may believe hosting an event with alcohol is the best way to celebrate in Fairfax. The simple fact is the potential of being arrested for underage possession of alcohol, assault, and/or driving while intoxicated simply makes it a bad idea.