Drinking and Smoking

What is the minimum drinking age?

You must be 21 to purchase or possess any alcoholic beverage, including beer, wine, or liquor. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is against the law to have alcohol in your system, if you are under 21. Even if you are not in possession of the alcohol/ beverage container, the court can still find that you are guilty of possession of alcohol.

Can someone under 21 buy alcohol with parental consent?

No. Parents cannot legally authorize an underage child to buy alcoholic beverages of any type. It is against the law for anyone to sell alcohol to, make alcohol available to, or purchase alcohol for a person under 21.

What are the penalties for underage possession of alcohol?

Underage possession of alcohol is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a possible fine of up to $2,500 and/or a sentence of up to 12 months in jail. If convicted, the court shall order you to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or perform a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service as a condition of supervised probation. If guilty, your license to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth shall also be suspended for a period of not less than six months, and not more than one year. Upon a demonstration of hardship, the court may authorize the use of a restricted permit to operate a motor vehicle, if convicted.

What is the minimum age to purchase or possess nicotine products?

In Virginia it is now illegal for any person under the age of 21 to attempt to purchase, purchase, or possess any tobacco product, nicotine vapor product, alternative nicotine product, or hemp product intended for smoking. A violation of this law is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $100 or up to 20 hours of community service for the first offense and a civil penalty of up to $250 or up to 40 hours of community service for a subsequent violation. Active-duty personnel 18 years and older are exempted. One who is a member of the military and 18 years of age or older must show an ID issued by the Armed Forces of the United States as proof of age for this purpose.

Can someone under 21 consume or possess marijuana or marijuana products?

No. No person younger than 21 years of age shall consume or possess or attempt to consume or possess any marijuana or marijuana products. Such violation will be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $25 and shall be ordered to enter a substance abuse treatment or education program or both. Also, it is illegal to use or consume marijuana or marijuana products while in a motor vehicle being driven on a public highway. Any person, regardless of age, who violates this law shall be guilty of a class 4 misdemeanor. Keep in mind that selling, giving, or distributing marijuana, or possession with intent to give or distribute marijuana is still a crime, punishable as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount.

So You’re 18 is presented by the Virginia State Bar’s Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations.
For print copies of So You're 18 contact (804) 775-0521 or [email protected]