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Defenses to underage drinking in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the Juvenile and Underage Drinking Enforcement (JUDE) program aims specifically to reduce underage drinking. Depending on the age of an individual charged with underage drinking, the penalties may vary. In some cases, a minor may claim a valid exception under the law.

In general, it is not legal for any person younger than 21 years old to consume or possess alcohol. However, there are five exceptions in Louisiana. A minor may possibly avoid charges of underage drinking or possession if they:

  • are at least 18 years old and with a parent, legal guardian or spouse who is at least 21 years old
  • drink specifically for religious purposes, like during a traditional communion service
  • drink for a specific medical purpose
  • possess alcohol while carrying out their employee duties as protected by a lawfully owned business
  • drink inside a private residence

Many people are surprised to learn just how many exceptions an underage drinker may use to fight underage drinking charges.

Should none of these exceptions apply, a drinking minor who is at least 17 years old will receive a misdemeanor and likely face arrest. A minor younger than 17 years old will have their age confirmed. Once confirmed, the arresting officer should contact the minor's legal guardian or parent. Then, he or she must fill out a Juvenile Disposition Form and collect any evidence before sending the documentation off to a juvenile court.

If you face underage drinking charges, you may have more options than you think. Don't hesitate to seek out professional legal representation to protect your rights and future by disputing the prosecution's case against you.

Source: FindLaw, "MIP: A Minor in Possession," accessed Aug. 04, 2017

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