Home
APIS Policy Topics
Underage Drinking>
Maps & Charts
About APIS>
About Alcohol Policy
What's New
Policy Changes at a Glance
Change Log
APIS Resources>
Contact APIS
 
State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws

- Virginia -

Underage Drinking: Underage Possession of Alcohol

Possession is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):

  • private residence
  • AND spouse
  • OR ELSE parent/guardian

Notes:
POSSESSION: Virginia law provides for two separate family exceptions. First, Virginia permits persons under twenty-one to possess alcoholic beverages due to such person's "making a delivery of alcoholic beverages by order of his parent." APIS interprets the phrase “by order of his parent” as providing for parental consent. Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-305. Second, Virginia permits underage possession when an alcoholic beverage is provided to an underage guest in a private residence and the underage guest is "accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is twenty-one years of age or older." Va. Code Ann. §§ 4.1-305, 4.1-200. The second exception is limited to specific locations, but the first one is not. Because at least one of these exceptions is not conditioned on a specific location, APIS codes the Parent/Guardian exception with a check mark rather than a plus sign.

Underage Drinking: Underage Consumption of Alcohol

Consumption is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):

  • private residence
  • AND EITHER parent/guardian OR spouse

Underage Drinking: Internal Possession by Minors

Internal possession is not explicitly prohibited.

Notes:
INTERNAL POSSESSION: Although Virginia does not prohibit Internal Possession as defined by APIS, beginning onJuly 1, 2003, it has a statutory provision that makes it unlawful for a minor to "exhibit evidence of physical indicia of consumption of alcohol". Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-305. Laws that punish minors for displaying "indicators of consumption" or for "exhibiting the effects" of having consumed alcohol, but which do so without reference to a blood, breath, or urine test, are not considered as prohibiting Internal Possession as defined by APIS.

Underage Drinking: Underage Purchase of Alcohol

Purchase is prohibited and there is NO ALLOWANCE for youth purchase for law enforcement purposes.

Underage Drinking: Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

Furnishing is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):

  • private residence
  • AND EITHER parent/guardian OR spouse

Notes:
Prior to July 1, 2005, Virginia’s law allowing any person to keep or possess alcoholic beverages “in his residence for his personal use or that of his family” was not specific to minors and therefore did not meet the criteria for an exception in this policy topic. With the passage of legislation effective July 1, 2005, however, this exception was incorporated in a new underage furnishing provision and now meets the criteria for coding the Parent / Guardian and Spouse exceptions to underage furnishing, when the alcohol is provided by a person “in his residence.”

Underage Drinking: Minimum Ages for On-Premises Servers and Bartenders

Beer: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders
Wine: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders
Spirits: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders

Notes:
Although bartenders are generally required to be at least 21 years old in Virginia, a person who is at least 18 years of age may sell or serve beer for on-premises consumption at a counter in an establishment that sells beer only. Effective March 4th, 2009, a person who is at least 18 years of age may also sell or serve wine for on-premises consumption in an establishment that sells wine only.

Underage Drinking: False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol

Provision(s) targeting minors:

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • Penalty may include driver's license suspension through a judicial procedure

Provision(s) targeting retailers:

  • Licenses for drivers under age 21 are easily distinguishable from those for drivers age 21 and older
  • Specific affirmative defense - the retailer inspected the false ID and came to a reasonable conclusion based on its appearance that it was valid

Notes:
Virginia defines “bona fide evidence of legal age” as including “a valid motor vehicle driver's license issued by any state of the United States or the District of Columbia, armed forces identification card, United States passport or foreign government visa, valid special identification card issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, or any valid identification issued by any other federal or state government agency.” See 3 Va. Admin. Code § 5-50-20(B). In determining whether a licensee has reason to believe a purchaser is not of legal age, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board considers whether an ordinary and prudent person would have reason to doubt that the purchaser is of legal age based on the general appearance, facial characteristics, behavior and manner of the purchaser, and whether the seller demanded, was shown and acted in good faith in reliance upon bona fide evidence of legal age that contained a photograph and physical description consistent with the appearance of the purchaser. See 3 Va. Admin. Code § 5-50-20(A). APIS has interpreted the “good faith reliance” requirement as providing the retailer a defense for reasonable reliance on an apparently valid ID.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: Youth (Underage Operators of Noncommercial Motor Vehicles)
BAC limit: 0.02 - a BAC level above the limit is per se (conclusive) evidence of a violation.

Applies to drivers under age 21.

Retail Sales: Keg Registration

Keg definition: 4 or more gallons

Prohibited:

  • possessing an unregistered, unlabeled keg - max. fine/jail:
  • destroying the label on a keg - max. fine/jail:

Purchaser information collected:

  • purchaser's name and address
  • verified by a government-issued ID
  • address where keg will be consumed
  • Warning information to purchaser: active – purchaser action required (e.g., signature)

    Deposit: not required

    Provisions specifically address disposable kegs

    Underage Drinking: Use/Lose: Driving Privileges

    Virginia has two Use/Lose laws:

    1. Type(s) of violation leading to driver's license suspension, revocation, or denial:

      • Underage purchase
      • Underage possession
      • Underage consumption

      Use/lose penalties apply to minors under age 21

      Authority to impose driver's license sanction

      • mandatory

      Length of suspension/revocation:

      • Minimum: 180 days
      • Maximum: 365 days

    2. Type(s) of violation leading to driver's license suspension, revocation, or denial:

      • Underage purchase
      • Underage possession
      • Underage consumption

      Use/lose penalties apply to minors under age 18

      Authority to impose driver's license sanction

      • mandatory

      Length of suspension/revocation: 180 days

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services USA.gov - Government Made Easy