The consumption of alcohol is legal for those who are over the age of 21. However, while drinking alcohol may be legal for most, there are a number of offenses associated with drinking alcohol that can result in criminal charges being filed. The following offenses are just some of the alcohol crimes that a defendant can be charged with:
One of the most common alcohol-related charges filed by prosecutors is driving under the influence of alcohol. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (“MADD”) have highlighted the dangers that impaired drivers pose and have successfully lobbied state legislatures to increase DUI penalties and enforcement efforts.
In California, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content that is 0.08 percent or higher and law enforcement officers receive specialized training in detecting and pursuing DUI offenders.
A driver who is arrested for DUI can face criminal penalties in court as well as an administrative driver’s license suspension from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that proceeds independently of any criminal action. The penalties imposed upon conviction for DUI will depend on the defendant’s criminal history, his or her blood alcohol content, whether there was a collision and various other factors. Please visit the Los Angeles DUI Center for more information about DUI offenses.
While it is legal for those over 21 to consume alcohol, there are circumstances where excessive drinking can lead to criminal charges. When a person is so intoxicated that he or she is unable to take care of him or herself or others, that person can be arrested for drunk in public. People are usually cited for this offense when they are intoxicated and aggressively picking fights with others in the street or are passed out and blocking a sidewalk or other public passageway. Drunk in public is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time for defendants who have numerous prior convictions for this crime. In many cases, this offense is considered a “catch-all” crime that allows law enforcement officers to arrest those who are drunk and uncooperative.
There are a number of laws designed to discourage the consumption of alcohol by minors who are under the age of 21. Under California Health and Safety Code Section 25658(a) HSC, it is illegal to sell or provide alcohol to an underage drinker. It is common for agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to perform sting operations that target bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Underage decoys will be sent into these stores to try to purchase alcohol or have someone buy alcohol for them. Those who agree to help the decoy are usually charged criminally with selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21. In addition to criminal penalties that can be imposed as a result of a conviction, businesses that are convicted of this offense can also have their license to sell alcohol revoked.
In some cases, a person’s level of intoxication can actually be used as a defense. Many crimes require that the defendant have a specific state of mind at the time he or she committed the act in question. When a defendant was intoxicated at the time a crime was committed, there may be a valid argument that the required state of mind did not exist or was compromised. This defense is usually only available to defendants who were unknowingly provided drugs or alcohol and whose actions occurred as a result of involuntary intoxication. This defense generally does not apply to defendants who voluntary became intoxicated and then committed an illegal act.
If you or a loved one have been charged with an alcohol-related crime, it is very important that you meet with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively fight alcohol-related charges.
For more information about Los Angeles alcohol crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.