Minnesota's underage drinking laws prohibit anyone younger than 21 from possessing, consuming, or purchasing alcohol. Most violations of the law carry misdemeanor penalties, plus driver's license suspension. Learn what a minor consumption ticket can mean.
Like all states, the legal drinking age in Minnesota is 21. But there's one caveat. The law provides that a person doesn't turn 21 for purposes of consuming or purchasing alcohol until 8 a.m. on the day the person turns 21. Lawmakers enacted this "8 a.m." provision in an attempt to prevent midnight binge drinking by those turning 21. (Minn. Stat. § 340A.503 (2022).)
Underage drinking comes with a misdemeanor penalty in Minnesota and driver's license suspensions.
In Minnesota, a minor consumption ticket carries a minimum $100 fine, along with court costs and the possibility of jail time. The underage person will also have their driver's license suspended for 30 days.
Underage adults (those 18 to 20 years old) may be able to pay the citation without going to court (as long as it's a first offense), but that's not the case for juvenile offenders. A juvenile offender (younger than 18) must go before a judge. The judge can impose a $100 fine, require the child to participate in a chemical dependency treatment program, and place the child on probation.
Minnesota law provides an exception for underage consumption as long as the minor consumed alcohol in the parent's home and with their consent.
A person who calls 911 to seek medical assistance for oneself or another person will be given immunity from prosecution for underage consumption and possession charges. To benefit from this immunity, the person must provide emergency services with their contact information, remain on the scene, and cooperate with authorities.
(Minn. Stat. §§ 171.173, 260B.235, 340A.503, 340A.703 (2022).)
It's illegal for any person younger than 21 years old to purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages. Possession of an alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume it is also a crime. Both of these offenses carry misdemeanor penalties with a minimum $100 fine.
If the underage person used a fake ID or otherwise misrepresented their age in order to purchase alcohol, additional penalties apply. A first offense is a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses carry gross misdemeanor penalties with higher fines and the possibility of lengthier jail sentences.
The underage person also loses their driver's license for 90 days. If the person is younger than 18 and commits a second offense, the court can take away their license until they turn 18 or for a year, whichever is longer.
An employee of a business who suspects a person's ID is fake may seize the ID and turn it over to law enforcement.
(Minn. Stat. §§171.22, 340A.503, 340A.702 (2022).)
Underage minors are prohibited from entering liquor establishments for the purpose of unlawfully buying or consuming alcohol. This offense is also a misdemeanor. This prohibition doesn't apply to underage adults (those age 18, 19, or 20) working at the establishment, attending a social event, or eating a meal.
Getting a minor consumption ticket might seem trivial but it can come with some serious repercussions, including losing one's driving privileges. You may want to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you if you need to go before a judge. If you're facing DWI or underage drinking and driving charges, be sure to contact a criminal defense attorney.