Underage Drinking

Virginia

The policy topics, below, address statues and regulations related to underage drinking and access to 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.

Consumption is prohibited WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION(S):

  • private residence
  • AND EITHER parent/guardian OR spouse

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.

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

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.”

  • 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.

  • Beer: Not Specified
  • Wine: Not Specified
  • Spirits: Not Specified

Provision(s) targeting minors:

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • No driver's license suspension 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 any evidence that is or reasonably appears to be an unexpired driver's license issued by any state of the United States or the District of Columbia, military identification card, United States passport or foreign government visa, unexpired special identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or any other valid government-issued identification card bearing the individual's photograph, signature, height, weight, and date of birth, or which bears a photograph that reasonably appears to match the appearance of the purchaser. A student identification card is not considered to be bona fide evidence of legal age. See 3 Va. Admin. Code § 5-50-20 and Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-304(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.

BAC limit: 0.02 - a BAC level above the limit is per se (conclusive) evidence of a violation.

Applies to drivers under age 21.

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

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

No State-imposed liability for hosting underage drinking parties.