Under 21? May Not Have Alcohol in Kentucky

October 1st, 2014 by Attorney Dan Carman

If you haven’t celebrated your 21st birthday, it’s against the law for you to buy alcohol in Kentucky. The law says that you may not get your older brother to buy you a drink, you may not pay somebody to buy you a six-pack at the package store, and you certainly may not get behind the wheel of a vehicle with alcohol in your possession or with an appreciable amount your system.

In trying to get that point across and in an attempt to identify every conceivable way in which an underage wannabe drinker might get hold of alcohol, Kentucky lawmakers have passed laws that say the owner of a business where alcohol is sold by the drink or consumed on the premises can’t allow a minor to remain on the premises if not with a parent or guardian—unless the business does more than sell alcoholic drinks, like operate as a hotel, a restaurant, an athletic complex, an entertainment facility where prebooked concerts are held, a grocery or drug store, or another kind of establishment similar to those named in Kentucky Revised Statute 244.085(6).

In Lexington, there’s a group of high school students who want to remind everyone it’s against the law here to sell alcohol to minors. That group is called the Youth Coalition for Alcohol Education (YCAE), and they’re enlisting the help of local businesses that do sell alcohol to get the word out. YCAE was successful in having several businesses agree to post a sign on their doors during this spring of 2014. The sign says simply, “We don’t sell to minors. Thank you for not buying for minors.” Any person entering the store is going to see that sign and be reminded that, if they’re entering the business to buy alcohol for a minor, or they’re a minor attempting to buy with a fake ID, presumably the business is committed to not selling alcohol to or for minors.

There was a survey done in 2012 among certain grades in middle through high school by a group called Kentucky Incentives for Prevention. In Fayette County, 58 percent of 10th grade students and 84 percent of 12th grade students who self-reported in the survey said it’s easy to get their hands on alcohol, while 61 percent of 12th grade students said they can simply get alcohol from their friends.

With minors, a big concern is binge drinking, where a drinker might consume five or more drinks in a short period of time. Binge drinking can result in alcohol blood poisoning, which may lead to death if the binge drinker isn’t treated in time. Unfortunately, in 2012 in Kentucky, binge drinking by minors aged 12 to 20 was reported in over 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s 519,000 minors. And in Kentucky in 2012, 13 percent of all traffic fatalities in Kentucky were the result of a minor with a blood alcohol content greater than .01 being behind the wheel in a traffic accident.

It’s against the law to sell alcohol to minors in Kentucky, but, as borne out by these statistics, it happens. It’s also clear that minors have other ways to get their hands on alcohol besides buying it themselves.

If you’re a minor, or if you’re a parent or guardian whose minor child is facing charges in any way related to underage possession of alcohol, I hope you’ll call me today at (859)685-1055 to discuss those charges. I’m Dan Carman, a criminal defense lawyer in Lexington, and I can help you and your loved one.