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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses alcohol and drug offences by a young person.
The law prohibits young persons under the age of 18 years to possess or consume alcohol in Alberta. You must be at least 18 years old to drink alcohol in a public place. Public places include restaurants, lounges or taverns. You cannot have liquor in your possession. If the police suspect you are in possession of alcohol, they can search your car, boat, house or other property without a warrant. The police will also seize your property and your alcohol.
It is against the law for anyone to sell liquor to a minor. If you try to give false or forged identification cards which state you are 18 years or more to get into a public place to drink and you are caught with false identification, you can be charged with an offence. The person who gave you the false identification card will also be charged. You cannot purchase alcohol unless you are 18 years. If you ask someone to purchase liquor for you because you are under age and that someone agrees, they could be charged with an offence.
It is also against the law to drive when you are drunk or under the influence of drugs. If you are impaired and found sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle while parked without the ignition turned on, you could still be charged under the Criminal Code. If you are convicted, you will have a criminal record. Your license will be suspended and you could receive a fine up to $1000 if you were less than 18 years at the time of the offence or any other sentence the Judge feels is appropriate considering the sentencing principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. For a second or third offence, the penalties are more severe and could include a jail term.
You could also be charged with “driving with a blood level over .08”. If the police pull you over and suspect you are drinking, they can demand you come down to the police station for a Breathalyzer test. They may ask you to take a roadside Breathalyzer test before taking you to the police station. There are few excuses you can make for refusing to take a Breathalyzer test. Refusing to blow is a serious offence and will result in a charge of “refusing to blow”.
Possession of marijuana and other drugs is a crime under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. As a youth, your charges will probably be dealt with in Youth Court. If you are found guilty, the type of Sentence you receive will depend upon whether you are a first-time offender, whether you have a previous juvenile record, your family situation, and other sentencing principles under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. You should consult with a lawyer if you charged with a Criminal Offence.