Underage drinking and engaging in some drug use, like smoking marijuana, may be considered as rites of passage for Louisiana teenagers or minor indiscretions. But these are real-world crimes which can lead to an underage drinking or drug possession prosecution and have other severe consequences as a juvenile crime or separate offense.

Underage Drinking

It is illegal to drink under 21 in Louisiana. The minimum age for servers and bartenders for beer, wine and spirits is 18.

Minors may get arrested for obtaining or attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages, possessing or consuming these beverages without accompanying a parent, guardian or spouse who is at least 21.

Using false representation that a minor is old enough to obtain alcohol, such as a fake identification, is also illegal. Louisiana issues licenses for drivers who are under 21 that contain colors that clearly distinguish it from licenses for drivers of legal age.

Minors may be at a business that is licensed to sell alcohol under specific circumstances. They must be with a parent, guardian or spouse who is at least 21. They are also allowed in places that may sell alcohol but are still open to minors such as restaurants, bowling alleys, public buildings, sporting events and concerts.

Minors may face significant fines and possible imprisonment for an underage drinking conviction. Their driver’s licenses will also get suspended for underage purchase, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages. A person between 13 and 18 who is found guilty of these offenses will have their licenses suspended from 90 days to at least one year until they reach 18, whichever is longer.

It is not illegal to host an underaged party in Louisiana. This places it in the minority of states.

Drinking and driving

For drivers under 21, a blood alcohol content of at least 0.02 percent is conclusive evidence of a crime. Driving while intoxicated also carries severe penalties, depending on the circumstances.

Marijuana and drug laws

Regardless of age, no one may sell, possess, manufacture, and use marijuana in Louisiana. Medical marijuana is legal under specific requirements. This state has some of the most stringent penalties governing cannabis in the country.

Synthetic marijuana is also illegal and is considered a dangerous alternative to natural marijuana. Severe penalties apply to purchasing, selling, possession, producing and using synthetic marijuana.

Substantial penalties, including imprisonment, also apply to the purchase, sale, possession manufacturing and use of highly addictive drugs. These include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

There are also criminal penalties covering drug paraphernalia, which is any device, product or material used to produce, distribute or ingest a drug. Fines and incarceration may get imposed.

Once a person reaches their 18th birthday, they face harsher penalties for selling drugs to a minor. These include longer imprisonment and higher fines. Penalties may be notably increased for selling drugs to a student or in a drug-free zone and for having a minor sell drugs.

These crimes may have life-altering consequences for juveniles, which can follow them in school or jobs. An attorney can help assure that they mount a vigorous defense and, in appropriate circumstances, seek a resolution that is fair and just.