There are two crimes that typically involve underage drinking in the District of Columbia.  First, misrepresentation of age is where someone under the age of 21 gets arrested for using a fake ID card.  These arrests typically occur in bars and liquor stores in areas known by law enforcement that college students frequent.  A second underage drinking crime in the District of Columbia is contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  The maximum penalties for misrepresentation of age increase in severity for repeat offenders.  For a first conviction, the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.  A second conviction carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.  Finally, a third conviction carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine.  Any conviction for this offense carries a driver’s license suspension for a period of 90 days to 1 year.

On the other hand, the same statute for misrepresentation of age provides for a guaranteed diversion option that can result in both the dismissal of the charges and the sealing of the arrest record.  For first time offenders, the misrepresentation of age statute allows the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (or OAG) to provide diversion in lieu of going to trial in these cases.  The typical diversion offer for a misrepresentation of age case involves community service and a fine.  Once the community service hours are complete and the fine is paid, the government usually dismisses the case.  The statute further provides that 6 months after the case is dismissed, the defendant can file a motion to seal the arrest record. 

For contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the maximum penalty is 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for a first offense.  For a second and subsequent offense, the maximum penalties increase as well.  Two key distinctions exist for contributing to the delinquency and misrepresentation—one good, one bad.  First, conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor does not, by statute, impose a driver’s license suspension.  The second, and not so good distinction, is that the statute does not have special provisions that permit the sealing of the arrest record.  Most misdemeanors that get dismissed require a two year waiting period for filing a motion to seal—unless the defendant can show “actual innocence” of the crime charged.  Fake ID cases carry a statutorily shortened waiting period to 6 months.  That means the individual can file a motion to seal after 6 months instead of waiting 2 years.  For contributing to the delinquency of minor cases, the individual must wait 2 years before filing a motion to seal.  However, like with fake ID cases, the government will typically offer some sort of diversion that involves paying a fine and doing community service in exchange for dismissal of the charges.

If you or a family member is arrested for a DC underage drinking offense, contact Scrofano Law PC for a consultation.  These offenses are typically committed by college age students who have bright futures.  Scrofano Law PC has helped individuals successfully get their cases dismissed and records expunged.  Just because you make a mistake, does not mean you should pay for it with your future.