Underage drinking offenses in Nebraska can result in fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges.
In Nebraska, the legal drinking is 21. Anyone younger than 21 commits a crime by possessing, consuming, purchasing, or attempting to purchase alcohol.
Nebraska law, however, provides exceptions for underage consumption and possession when:
Nebraska law penalizes underage drinking violations differently based on the violator's age.
Violators who are 18 or younger also commit a class III misdemeanor. As part of their sentence, the judge must require attendance in an alcohol education class. And on top of these penalties, the judge may impose the following penalties based on the person's number of prior convictions for the same offense.
First offense. A judge can impound a first-time offender's driver's license or permit for 30 days.
Second offense. A judge can impound a second-time offender's driver's license or permit for 90 days and order 20 to 40 hours of community service.
Third or subsequent offense. For a third or subsequent offense, a judge can impound the offender's driver's license or permit for 12 months, order at least 60 hours of community service, and require an alcohol assessment by a licensed counselor.
If the person doesn't have a driver's license, the person will not be permitted to get a license or permit during the applicable impoundment period.
A person who calls 911 in response to a possible alcohol overdose for oneself or another person can't be prosecuted for underage drinking if they make the call when the emergency becomes clear, remain on the scene, and cooperate with emergency authorities.
An underage person who purchases or attempts to purchase alcohol commits a class III misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Using a fake ID, including someone else's ID, can result in additional misdemeanor charges.
If you lend your ID to an underage person, you can also face class III misdemeanor charges.
Nebraska's liquor laws make it illegal for anyone to sell, give, or furnish alcohol to any person younger than 21 years of age. The penalty for this offense is a class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, if the underage person engages in any activity that results in serious bodily injury or death to another and the harm can be attributed to the alcohol, the person supplying the alcohol faces a class IIIA felony, punishable by a minimum of 30 days and up to 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If you're facing charges for underage drinking or attempting to buy alcohol, you may want to talk to a criminal defense lawyer. If you end up with DUI charges, you'll definitely want the help of an attorney.
(Neb. Stat. §§ 53-180, 53-180.01. 53-180.02, 53-180.05, 53-181, 60-491, 60-4,111 (2022).)