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COMIC: What Happens if You're Caught Underage Drinking?

By Maddy Buck, Esq. | Last updated on


Panel 1: A turquoise character looks on with dismay at a green character who is holding a drink, surrounded by cups and empty bottles. The green character tries to look innocent while asking the question, “What happens if I’m caught drinking underage?” 

Panel 2: Anthropomorphic states (Nevada, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, and Louisiana) stand somewhat defiantly in a line while saying things like “It’s up to us!” or “We decide who, when, where can buy alcohol!” Above them, the text says: “Rules around drinking, selling, and buying alcohol are up to states to decide.” 

Panel 3: A rectangle with arms and legs and the words “Federal Law” written on it holds a bag of money toward a state character, as that character holds a document that says “state law, drinking age is now 21.” Above, the text says: “But in the 1980s, the U.S. government passed a law that said that if states wanted federal money for their highways, they had to pass laws prohibiting people under 21 from buying alcohol. So now, all states have a drinking age of 21.” 

Panel 4: Underneath this is a turquoise character receiving a drink from a purple character in a long robe. To the right is a family sitting at a table drinking wine, with text above “In the presence of a parent or guardian.” Below is the text “For education (like a culinary student tasting alcohol for a class),” which is next to a blob with a chef’s hate saying “Recipe calls for good wine!” The text above says: “Even though 21 is the drinking age, most states allow underage drinking in special cases, such as: as part of a religious ceremony.”

Panel 5: A green blob is holding a drink in one hand and a cell phone in the other, which says “911” on it. The phone says, “911 emergency response,” and the character says, “We were drinking and my friend had too much! Help!” Above, the text says: “Also, in some states, you can’t be penalized for underage drinking that is discovered when you’re honestly reporting a medical emergency or assault. Those states want you to not be afraid to call for help in an emergency.” 

Panel 6: The text says: “But some states don’t make any exceptions. Underage drinking is always illegal in those states.” Below are some states with legs, saying things like “21 is our drinking age” and “No exceptions!” The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. 

Panel 7: Four round characters, each a different color and holding a drink looking sheepish below the text that says: “So what happens if I’m caught? 

Panel 8: A purple blob is sitting at a desk, picking up litter, and sitting in on counseling with a green blob in an armchair. The text says: “Underage drinking is typically considered a misdemeanor criminal offense. For a first-time offense, you may have to pay a fine, participate in an alcohol education program, go to counseling, or perform community service."

Panel 9: A turquoise round character looks very sad, sitting on a bench behind bars. Above is text that says: “but if it happens multiple times, you could end up serving actual jail time.” 

Panel 10: Some rectangles with arms and legs and the word “laws” and pictures of wine glasses stand defiantly below the text, which says: “Find out more about drinking and the law at” 

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