Underage Drinking Arrests Illegal

Washington DC police have been illegally arresting persons, including college students, for underage drinking, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the city.

The practice of arresting underage drinkers violates a 1997 city statute that decriminalizes underage possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages, according to an attorney for the unnamed plaintiffs. She has also filed a preliminary injunction to prevent police from arresting underage drinkers until a judge rules on the case.

The suit seeks to end the arrests of those under age 21 for possession or consumption of alcohol and expunge the arrest and prosecution records for people who have been arrested since 1997.

A lawyer unassociated with the case observed that “the arrest of people for underage consumption is a violation of constitutional rights” and praised the plaintiffs for their action.

Washington, DC, has received a $1,000,000 grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency to crack down on alcohol consumption among those under the age of 21.



  • Students file suit over DC underage drinking policies. GW (George Washington University) Hatchet, 1-22-04.

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