In every state in the Union, it is illegal for people younger than 21 years of age to drink alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, many American youth are allowed and encouraged by the adults in their environments to imbibe, contributing to legal and criminal problems. Underage drinking laws are present to help protect children from an activity which may stunt their development and requires a certain level of responsibility in order to manage well. Alcohol is something that alters how we perceive ourselves and others and can drastically reduce the level of control we have over our bodies.
But, when it comes to underage drinking laws versus child endangerment, many of us are unsure how they are connected or different. If someone is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), when does a conviction for that also include a violation of underage drinking laws or child endangerment? Child endangerment comes into play when a drunk driver has a child in the vehicle when pulled over. Having a child in the vehicle while driving under the influence is unlawful because it risks the life of the child by placing a minor who needs the care and guidance of responsible adults in a dangerous situation.
An offender can be accused of child endangerment simply by putting a child in a risky situation like that present during a DUI, but underage drinking laws go into effect when the offender is found with a minor who has been drinking alcohol. The presence of a minor who has been drinking could invoke both child endangerment and underage drinking laws, providing additional stress in the offender’s life. An adult who has been drinking found in the presence of a minor who has also been drinking raises many suspicions and accusations will follow.
While a driver who is arrested for a DUI while having a minor in the vehicle is not necessarily going to face criminal charges related to underage drinking laws, it is still good to be mindful of the potentially dangerous situation the offender is in. When adults are drinking alcohol around minors, it is not always possible for them to be aware of what the minors are doing. Young people can sometimes take advantage of situations in which the adults around them are not in full control of themselves. Driving after such a lapse in judgment could result in criminal charges related to a variety of infractions, including child endangerment.