Utah Minor in Possession of Alcohol: Laws and Penalties

A minor in Utah may not buy (or attempt to buy, or ask an adult to buy), possess, or consume alcohol; or knowingly misrepresent a minor’s or someone else’s age to obtain alcohol. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-409(1).) It is also illegal for adults, including licensees (those licensed to sell alcohol in Utah), to sell or otherwise furnish alcohol to minors. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-403(1).) There are few exceptions to these rules.

Exceptions to the Rule

Utah recognizes two exceptions to the general rule prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol.

  • Medicine. A minor may consume alcoholic products for medicinal purposes if the minor is 18 or older; and the alcohol is provided by the minor’s parent, guardian, or health care provider who is licensed to write a prescription. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-409(9)(a).)
  • Religious services. A minor may consume alcohol as part of a religious organization’s religious services. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-409(9)(b).)

Penalties

A conviction for violating a Utah’s minor in possession law is a misdemeanor. A violator’s driver’s license will be suspended for one year (first convictions) or two years (second and subsequent convictions). If the violator is not yet eligible to apply for a learner’s permit or license, the suspension will begin when the minor becomes eligible.

For first offenses, the judge may reduce the license suspension time if the minor successfully completes a court-approved educational program. For second and subsequent violations, the judge may order the minor to participate in educational and treatment programs in addition to imposing license suspension. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-409.)

A minor who incurs a subsequent conviction while driving on an already-suspended license will have the minor’s license suspension extended for an additional two year period. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-411.)

For violations that included age misrepresentation (for example, providing a false ID to illegally buy alcohol), additional penalties may also apply.

  • First violations. First violations that include age misrepresentation are class B misdemeanors. Such violations carry a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both (as decided by the judge). (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-411(1)(a)(i).)
  • Second violations. Violators are guilty of a class A misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-411(1)(a)(ii).)
  • Third and subsequent violations. Violators are guilty of a class A misdemeanor, with the same penalties described above. In addition, the judge may impose community service, restitution (money) paid to those harmed by the crime, or both. The court will also forward a copy of the minor’s conviction record to the Driver License Division. (Utah Code Ann. Section 32B-4-411(1)(a)(iii).)

Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

It is illegal in Utah for an adult to purchase alcohol for, sell to, or otherwise provide alcohol to minors, with two exceptions described above. (Utah Code Ann. Sections 32B-4-403 &32B-5-306.) An adult who furnishes alcohol to a minor when the adult has reason to know that the minor is underage (but, for example, didn’t check an ID, or relied on a seemingly false ID), may be convicted of a class B misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both.

An adult who furnishes alcohol to minor when that adult actually knows the minor is underage may be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. (Utah Code Ann. Sections 32B-4-403.)

Getting Legal Help

Because local procedures and attitude towards the Utah minor in possession laws vary by community, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how these cases are handled in your area. This will give you a better chance of achieving the most favorable outcome under the unique circumstances of your case.

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