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Using a fake or false identification (generally with a fake ID card) is usually done for a purpose. In many cases, the purpose is to get alcohol while under the legal drinking age of 21 years of age or to enter an establishment that serves alcohol, which requires a patron to be 21 years of age or older. Indeed, the connection is so prevalent that DC Code §25–1002 specifically talks about the punishments for underage drinking and misrepresentation of age using a fake ID together in one place.
As mentioned, the legal drinking age in DC is 21 years or older. That is the standard, and the laws regarding underage drinking are strict in order to enforce that standard. If you are still underage, it is important to take a moment to understand the legal consequences you may face before you make any party plans involving alcohol.
In DC, the law makes it illegal for those under the age of 21 to purchase; attempt to purchase; possess; or drink alcoholic beverages.
The narrow exception to the rule above is that an underage worker at an establishment is allowed to handle alcohol strictly for work purposes. That means you will not get in trouble for stacking 6-pack beers on store shelves while under 21, even though you are technically in possession of alcohol.
If you are convicted of purchasing; attempting to purchase; possessing; or drinking alcoholic beverages while you are underage, an escalating series of civil penalties apply:
In lieu of—or in addition to—these penalties, you may be required to undergo a diversion program, which may include community service and alcohol awareness and education. You will have to pay a fee to enter such a program, although the fee may be reduced or waived.
It is also important to remember that college students may still face additional discipline from their educational institution.
Regardless of your actual age, misrepresenting your age in DC—whether orally or by use of a fake ID—for the purposes of purchasing, possessing, entering an establishment that serves alcohol (requiring age of entry to be 21 or older) or drinking an alcoholic beverage is a misdemeanor offense.
In general, simply possessing a fake ID in DC is usually not enough to be charged with a crime. To run afoul of the above law, the fake ID must be proven to be for the purpose of buying alcohol or entering an establishment that serves alcohol. Generally, this is established when the fake ID is used to do those things.
Those who are convicted of misrepresentation of age face punishments virtually the same as those for violating the underage drinking law:
A big difference here is that the punishments are criminal offenses, meaning they will show up on your criminal record on background searches.
Additionally, those who do not pay the fines will be imprisoned for a period not exceeding 30 days.
On your first or second offense of misrepresentation of age, it may be possible to be allowed to enter a diversion program instead of facing the noted penalties. However, if you refuse an offered program, fail to comply with the requirements of the program, or fail to complete the program within 6 months, you may continue to be prosecuted and face the penalties all the same. You will also have to pay a fee to enter the program, though it can be reduced or waived.
With regard to misrepresentation of age, it is possible to expunge the offense from your criminal record after 6 months have passed from a conviction or dismissal of a proceeding. The court will only grant the expungement if all associated fines were paid and you have not been charged or convicted of any other criminal offense.
Once so expunged, the effect will be to lawfully restore your position to the one you occupied before the offense. You will not be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by failing to recite or acknowledge the expunged offense. However, you will still have to reveal the expunged offense in response to a direct questionnaire or application for a position as a law enforcement officer.
Being found in violation of the underage drinking law in Washington DC can be a serious issue. Not only is there a fine, but suspension of driving privileges can have a wide-reaching impact on your life by making it harder to commute to important places—such as your campus or office.
Being found in violation of the misrepresentation of age law in Washington DC is even more serious. Unlike a civil penalty, a criminal misdemeanor will show up on your criminal record and through a background check. Combined with the fines and suspension of driving privileges, this can have a substantial and long-reaching impact on your quality of life.
With the aid of an experienced and expert Washington DC fake ID/underage drinking lawyer, it may be possible to substitute diversion programs for these penalties or get the charges reduced or dismissed. With regard to misrepresentation of age, it is also possible to expunge the record of the offense.
If you are facing charges of violating the underage drinking or misrepresentation of age laws in Washington DC, do not hesitate to contact the aggressive, experienced and top-rated Washington DC fake ID and underage drinking lawyers at Ervin Kibria Law for a free initial consultation. We are always ready to hear your story and work with you to achieve the best outcome and perhaps even get your case dismissed.
Give us a call and arrange a free consultation.
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