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What are the penalties for underage drinking?

Underage drinking in Georgia is a dangerous activity. Any teen who drinks, attempts to purchase or buys the substance can be charged as a minor in possession (MIP). Many teens who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 21 feel that they are grown enough to drink and hang out with their friends. They do not realize that their bodies are still developing and not capable of handling alcohol like older adults. They are also less likely to drink responsibly. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, 90 percent of "teenage alcohol consumption is done by binge drinking." Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time can lead to poisoning and death. There are also many health risks associated with the activity. Some of the effects are short term, such as vomiting, fainting, trouble breathing. The long-term effects of repeated underage binge drinking include liver problems, brain damage and heart disease. Intoxicated teens are more likely to act belligerently, exhibit poor judgment and engage in reckless and dangerous behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated. 

Legal consequences of underage drinking 

First-time offenders can receive a sentence of up to six months behind bars, suspension of their driver’s license and $300 in fines. Habitual offenders face stiffer penalties, such as higher fines, a longer suspension period for their driver’s license and incarceration sentence. Teens who lose their driving privileges because of alcohol possession are not eligible for restricted licenses.

Alcohol and minors do not mix. Parents should inform their teens about the dangers of alcohol use, especially binge drinking and intoxicated driving and discourage them from doing them.

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