In the United States, alcohol is not legal until you turn 21. It hasn’t always been this way. It has been as low as 18 for beer and wine. However, now all states, including Virginia, use the same limit at 21.

Regardless of the legal limit, though, we know that underage drinking is fairly common. All you have to do is look at when people have their first drink. Some studies have found that girls tend to try alcohol for the first time at an average age of 13. For boys, it’s even earlier, at 11.

Now, that just means that they tried it at that age, which may be very different than actively drinking. For some, it could mean sneaking a sip of Mom’s wine while she’s not at the table, for instance, or begging Dad for a taste of his beer while watching a football game.

However, it still shows that young people are thinking about alcohol and even experimenting with it long before 21. In high school, many of them drink often at parties with their friends. This continues into college, especially since college teens have more adult freedoms, despite still being too young to legally drink.

The result of this underage drinking is that many people who just feel like they’re participating in normal social activities wind up facing some serious charges. A DWI or an minor in possession (MIP) can have a drastic impact on a young person’s future. They should not take this lightly, and it’s important for them to know exactly what legal options they have. This is especially true for those who may be facing other ramifications, like being expelled from school.