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What are the penalties for drinking before you're 21?

Underage students attending university in Virginia may be presented with various scenarios that involve alcohol and drinking. However, underage drinking should be avoided. It is illegal, of course, and underage drinking convictions can result in scholastic and employment difficulties in the future. Additionally, it can also wreak havoc on your body.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information lists numerous short and long term effects of alcohol on underage drinkers. For example, it's shown that alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Since young people generally have fewer inhibitions than older ones without alcohol, risk-taking behavior is actually more prevalent in underage drinkers than those who drink and are of age. Risk-taking behaviors include:

  • Sexual activities
  • Drinking and driving
  • Property damage, vandalism
  • Getting into physical or verbal altercations
  • Unintentional injuries, homicide, suicide

Even if the underage drinking charge doesn't seem like a big deal, getting hit with the potential charges related to the aforementioned issues can impact your life for a long time to come.

Long-term consequences have to do with the effect of alcohol on a developing brain. Your brain is more susceptible to permanent changes at this age, as your brain has not finished its development yet. Alcohol can reduce your ability to organize, plan, and halt impulses. It also negatively impacts your memory. In fact, in some studies of heavy underage drinking, physical damage to the frontal brain has been revealed.

As you can see, underage drinking may affect your educational opportunities or your chance at getting a job. Moreover, it can also impact your actual mental health and growth, which are two major reasons why it should be avoided.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.
3900 University Drive, Suite 320
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-539-5825
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