Furnishing Liquor In Washington State it is against the law for any person to give, sell, or supply liquor to anyone under the age of 21. Providing alcohol to someone under age 21 is considered "furnishing liquor."
It is also against the law to allow anyone under the age of 21 to consume liquor on your premises. This includes allowing minors to drink at your house, in a building, on your property, in one of your vehicles or your boat.
A violation of the furnishing liquor statute is a Gross-Misdemeanor
A violation of the furnishing liquor statute is a gross-misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5000 fine.
While many parents may think it is responsible to supervise people under the age of 21 who drink alcohol, the Washington State Legislature does not agree and has made such supervision a crime. Thus, if parents allow a party where alcohol is available to people under age 21, the parents are violating the law. However, it is not against the law for a parent or guardian to provide alcohol to his or her child or dependent if that alcohol is consumed in that person's presence.
There are many potential ways to resolve a furnishing liquor case that can help you avoid a criminal conviction. While furnishing liquor is a crime, many prosecutors (the people who bring the criminal charges against you) and courts are willing to allow these cases to be resolved without a plea of guilty.
Some possible ways to resolve your case include things like a "diversion" or "continuance with a dismissal" which will allow you to avoid a criminal conviction and keep your record "clean." Unfortunately, not all courts allow such programs and not all prosecutors are willing to resolve cases this way.
What you can do now:
This is when having a lawyer becomes particularly important, as it may take some fighting (i.e. litigation) to try and prevent a criminal record.
Additionally, an experienced lawyer can advise you of some things you can do now to help increase the chances your case will be resolved without a conviction and license suspension.
A Washington State furnishing liquor charge is a gross-misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by up to a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine.
Most people convicted of furnishing liquor do not receive the maximum penalties. In fact, most people convicted of furnishing liquor do not serve any jail time at all but may be required to pay fines, costs, and receive other burdensome conditions of probation. However, only an experienced attorney can accurately advise you of what you might be facing on your furnishing liquor case.
Furnishing liquor to minors - Possession, use - Penalties - Exhibition of effects - Exceptions. RCW 66.44.270.
(1) It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control. For the purposes of this subsection, "premises" includes real property, houses, buildings, and other structures, and motor vehicles and watercraft. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable as provided for in chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(2)(a) It is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire any liquor. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable as provided for in chapter 9A.20 RCW. (b) It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to be in a public place, or to be in a motor vehicle in a public place, while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor. For purposes of this subsection, exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor means that a person has the odor of liquor on his or her breath and either: (i) Is in possession of or close proximity to a container that has or recently had liquor in it; or (ii) by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise, exhibits that he or she is under the influence of liquor. This subsection
(2)(b) does not apply if the person is in the presence of a parent or guardian or has consumed or is consuming liquor under circumstances described in subsection (4) or (5) of this section.
(3) Subsections (1) and (2)(a) of this section do not apply to liquor given or permitted to be given to a person under the age of twenty-one years by a parent or guardian and consumed in the presence of the parent or guardian. This subsection shall not authorize consumption or possession of liquor by a person under the age of twenty-one years on any premises licensed under chapter 66.24 RCW.
(4) This section does not apply to liquor given for medicinal purposes to a person under the age of twenty-one years by a parent, guardian, physician, or dentist.
(5) This section does not apply to liquor given to a person under the age of twenty-one years when such liquor is being used in connection with religious services and the amount consumed is the minimal amount necessary for the religious service.
(6) Conviction or forfeiture of bail for a violation of this section by a person under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such conviction or forfeiture shall not be a disqualification of that person to acquire a license to sell or dispense any liquor after that person has attained the age of twenty-one years.