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Legal Immunity and Underage Drinking

Posted by John C. Taylor | Jul 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

21 is the legal drinking age in Tennessee and all 50 states. When underage individuals are caught purchasing, possessing, or drinking alcohol, they can face serious consequences under the law, including fines, probation, and even jail time. This is why some minors try to hide the fact that they have been drinking at all costs.

In some situations, minors have neglected to call 911 or tell a trusted individual that someone might need medical attention after drinking too much. They fear that if they call the authorities, they could be arrested for underage consumption.

To ensure that minors get proper treatment for alcohol poisoning, most states provide legal immunity for a good Samaritan who calls 911. In these states, someone will not be prosecuted for underage drinking if they call for help for themselves or others. However, do not assume that every state provides such immunity, as the following states do NOT provide legal immunity for underage drinking in this situation:

  • Tennessee
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • New Hampshire
  • Wyoming
  • Iowa
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Alaska

If you call the authorities and you have been engaging in underage alcohol possession or consumption, there is a chance that you could be arrested. However, it is important to ensure people have the medical care they need, so never ignore a possible case of alcohol poisoning. The good news is that not every case of underage drinking will be prosecuted, and if you do face charges, there are ways to defend against them.

It is important to note that the rules are not the same for drug overdoses, as Tennessee does have a Good Samaritan law that gives legal immunity to individuals who seek naloxone due to a heroin overdose.

Underage Drinking Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee prohibits underage individuals from possessing, purchasing, or consuming alcohol in almost every situation. You may assume that it is legal for a parent to allow a 20-year-old minor to have a glass of wine with dinner in their own home, though this is not the case in Tennessee. The only exceptions to the underage drinking prohibition are:

  • A minor can have alcohol given by a minister or priest as a part of a religious celebration or ceremony
  • An individual at least 18-years-old can handle alcohol (but not drink it) as part of a job

Outside of the above situations, minors under 21 can face Class A misdemeanor charges for alcohol violations, and parents may even face criminal charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor. A minor in possession conviction can have many consequences, including:

  • A criminal record
  • Probation
  • Suspension of a driver's license
  • Jail sentence up to 11 months and 29 days
  • Fines up to $2,500

Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer

The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.

About the Author

John C. Taylor

John C. Taylor is a Murfreesboro native and a graduate of Oakland High School. He earned his bachelor's degree from Furman University in Greenville, SC, where he participated in the Furman Advantage Research program, studying religion in American politics. John also earned his Master's degree.

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