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Legal defenses against charges of possession of alcohol by a minor under 21

California Vehicle Code 23224 prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from possessing alcoholic beverages while in a motor vehicle, regardless of whether they are a passenger or the driver. In California, this crime is categorized as a misdemeanor. Read on to find out about how charges under 23224 VC can be defended against as well as penalties for breaking this statute.

What are the penalties for breaking 23224 VC?

If you are under the age of 21 and are found to have been illegally possessing alcohol in a motor vehicle, you may receive the following penalties:

  • As much as $1,000 in fines
  • Up to six months in county jail

It should be noted that 23224 VC only covers the possession of alcohol in a vehicle, therefore it is different from a DUI.

What crimes are related to transporting alcohol under 21?

The following offenses are related to the crime of transporting alcohol in a motor vehicle under the age of 21.

  • BP 25662 prohibits the possession of alcohol by a minor in public.
  • VC 23221 prohibits the consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle (DUI).
  • VC 23222 prohibits having an open container of either weed or alcohol whilst driving. 

How can these charges be defended against?

There are some reasons why someone under the age of 21 may be exempt from 23224 VC. For example, a minor under 21 may be allowed to transport alcohol during work hours if they work for someone with a license to sell alcohol. In certain cases, someone under 21 may be allowed to transport alcohol if following instructions from someone such as a parent or guardian. 

Because of such exceptions, the following defenses may be applicable:

  • You were given permission to transport the alcohol by an employer.
  • You were given permission to transport the alcohol by a responsible adult (ex: a parent asked you to dispose of the alcohol).
  • You were unaware that the alcohol was present in your vehicle (in order to be charged, you must have had knowledge you were transporting an alcoholic beverage).
  • You were pulled over by an officer who did not have probable cause.

This article has explained what the penalties for possessing alcohol under the age of 21 under California VC 23224 are. If you would like to learn more about how you can be defended against such charges, please consider contacting us.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law Group patiently await your call.

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