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Understanding Nevada Alcohol Laws for Minors

Underaged drinking

Youth can mean a lot of things. Many young individuals believe that they are untouchable, outside of any consequences from the law. Because of this, bad decisions often come into play. 

One of these decisions is consuming alcohol and even getting behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks. How does Nevada law handle these cases for people under the age of 21 years old? 

Juvenile Court or Criminal Court? 

If the arrested individual is under the age 18 years old, he or she will likely face charges in the juvenile court system. Any individual over the age of 18 charged with underaged alcohol possession or minor DUI will be prosecuted in a criminal court. 
The difference between these two arenas is that harsher penalties follow criminal convictions for those found guilty in criminal court as an adult. 

Minor Consumption

The State of Nevada makes it a crime for someone who is under the age of 21 to: 

  • Purchase alcohol from any bar, saloon, resort or premises where alcohol is sold; 
  • Consume alcohol in any bar, saloon, resort or premises where alcohol is sold; 
  • Possess alcohol in public, which includes on a street or highway, in any place that is open to the public or in any private business that is also open to the public. 

Of course, certain defenses are available for minor consumption or possession of alcohol. For example, if the minor was consuming the alcohol for religious purposes and was in the presence of his or her parents, a defense could be raised. However, for the most part, the act of consuming or possessing alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. 

Minor DUI in Nevada 

A separate, but related offense in Nevada is underage drunk driving. If a driver under the age of 21-years-old operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or higher, it is considered a DUI offense. This applies regardless of whether he or she is intoxicated. 

In some circumstances, the underage driver will find himself or herself being charged with both DUI and minor alcohol possession, depending on whether alcohol is found present in the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest. This distinction is important because the legal limit for an adult is 0.08. 

The State of Nevada holds a strict “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to drinking and driving involving minors. It is for this reason that it is highly recommended that if a minor has been arrested for underaged drinking and driving that he or she retain an attorney as soon as possible.

Additional Crimes Affecting Minors

Another offense that is commonly associated with both possession of alcohol and minor drunk driving is the false representation of being 21 years old with the purpose of purchasing alcohol. Using a fake ID to purchase alcohol when the person is under the age of 21 is a criminal offense. 
It is also a criminal offense if a minor is caught loitering outside of a location where alcohol is served. A minor can be arrested regardless of whether he or she actually gets a hold of any alcohol while loitering.
It is also a crime if another person knowingly furnishes or sells alcohol in Nevada to someone younger than 21 years old. However, this law does not apply if the alcohol is furnished or given by the minor individual’s parents, guardians or physicians. 

Sealing “Underage Alcohol Possession” Records

If the person has been convicted of minor alcohol possession, and he or she is 18 years old or older, that person must wait at least one (1) year before requesting the court seal the criminal record. 
However, if the defendant was under the age of 18 at the time he or she was adjudged delinquent of minor consumption in Nevada, he or she will have his or her juvenile record sealed after that person turns the age 21 years old. 
The juvenile defendant can ask that the record be sealed sooner if more than three years have passed since the delinquency judgment of minor possession, he or she has not been convicted of any additional felonies or misdemeanors in Nevada involving “moral turpitude,” and the defendant has been deemed “rehabilitated.” 

Contact Us Today!

If you have been arrested for a DUI while visiting Nevada, it is important you contact the Hill Firm today. We can meet with you to discuss your rights and all potential legal consequences from your arrest. Contact us today at (702) 848-5000

Dan Hill