Wrong. Students and parents are often under the unfortunate misconception that criminal citations for underage drinking are like speeding tickets: you admit responsibility, you pay the “ticket” online, and you go about your business consequence-free…but this could not be further from the truth.
In Ohio, consumption or possession (even constructive possession) of alcohol while underage is a Misdemeanor of the First Degree-that’s the highest level misdemeanor in Ohio, and it carries with it a maximum possible penalty of up to 180 days in jail and up to a $ 1,000 fine (and can create further headaches for you down the line). That means that you cannot just pay-out your citation as if it were a speeding ticket, nor should you just plead guilty given the potential consequences. Furthermore, if you commit your offense near a college that you attend, you could also be staring down the barrel of a University Discipline Hearing.
The view of underage drinking citations as “just drinking tickets” is often perpetuated by parents who remember a gentler era of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and 3.2 beer; it is further perpetuated by law enforcement officers that downplay the seriousness of the citations that they issue in order to manage emotions during an arrest (and yes, an underage drinking citation counts as an “arrest”). Those days have passed, and now underage offenses (and the often related Fake ID charges) are treated very seriously by both the courts and Universities.
Even if you were to avoid a jail sentence on a Misdemeanor of the First Degree, the impact on your record can be significant. Every college student knows how competitive the job market is for students without a criminal record, but imagine how difficult it is with a conviction for a Misdemeanor of the First Degree.
Don’t just plead out your “drinking ticket” (AKA Criminal Citation). Call a qualified criminal lawyer today.