The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 7: Alcoholic Beverages

Chapter 21: PENALTIES

7 V.S.A. § 656. Person under 21 years of age misrepresenting age, procuring, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages; first or second offense; civil violation



§ 656. Person under 21 years of age misrepresenting age, procuring, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages; first or second offense; civil violation

(a)(1) Prohibited conduct. A person under 21 years of age shall not:

(A) falsely represent his or her age for the purpose of procuring or attempting to procure malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquor from any licensee, State liquor agency, or other person or persons;

(B) possess malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquor for the purpose of consumption by himself or herself or other minors, except in the regular performance of duties as an employee of a licensee licensed to sell alcoholic liquor; or

(C) consume malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquors. A violation of this subdivision may be prosecuted in a jurisdiction where the minor has consumed malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquors or in a jurisdiction where the indicators of consumption are observed.

(2) Offense. Except as otherwise provided in section 657 of this title, a person under 21 years of age who knowingly and unlawfully violates subdivision (1) of this subsection commits a civil violation and shall be referred to the Court Diversion Program for the purpose of enrollment in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. A person who fails to complete the program successfully shall be subject to:

(A) a civil penalty of $300.00 and suspension of the person's operator's license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 90 days, for a first offense; and

(B) a civil penalty of not more than $600.00 and suspension of the person's operator's license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 180 days, for a second offense.

(b) Issuance of Notice of Violation. A law enforcement officer shall issue a person under 21 years of age who violates this section a notice of violation, in a form approved by the Court Administrator. The notice of violation shall require the person to provide his or her name and address and shall explain procedures under this section, including that:

(1) the person shall contact the Diversion Program in the county where the offense occurred within 15 days;

(2) failure to contact the Diversion Program within 15 days will result in the case being referred to the Judicial Bureau, where the person, if found liable for the violation, will be subject to a civil penalty and a suspension of the person's operator's license and may face substantially increased insurance rates;

(3) no money should be submitted to pay any penalty until after adjudication; and

(4) the person shall notify the Diversion Program if the person's address changes.

(c) Summons and Complaint. When a person is issued a notice of violation under this section, the law enforcement officer shall complete a summons and complaint for the offense and send it to the Diversion Program in the county where the offense occurred. The summons and complaint shall not be filed with the Judicial Bureau at that time.

(d) Registration in Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. Within 15 days after receiving a notice of violation, the person shall contact the Diversion Program in the county where the offense occurred and register for the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. If the person fails to do so, the Diversion Program shall file the summons and complaint with the Judicial Bureau for adjudication under 4 V.S.A. chapter 29. The Diversion Program shall provide a copy of the summons and complaint to the law enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation and shall provide two copies to the person charged with the violation.

(e) Notice to Report to Diversion. Upon receipt from a law enforcement officer of a summons and complaint completed under this section, the Diversion Program shall send the person a notice to report to the Diversion Program. The notice to report shall provide that:

(1) The person is required to complete all conditions related to the offense imposed by the Diversion Program, including substance abuse screening and, if deemed appropriate following the screening, substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or both.

(2) If the person does not satisfactorily complete the substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or any other condition related to the offense imposed by the Diversion Program, the case will be referred to the Judicial Bureau, where the person, if found liable for the violation, shall be assessed a civil penalty, the person's driver's license will be suspended, and the person's automobile insurance rates may increase substantially.

(3) If the person satisfactorily completes the substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, and any other condition related to the offense imposed by the Diversion Program, no penalty shall be imposed and the person's operator's license shall not be suspended.

(f)(1) Diversion Program Requirements. Upon being contacted by a person who has been issued a notice of violation, the Diversion Program shall register the person in the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. Pursuant to the Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program, the Diversion Program shall impose conditions on the person. The conditions imposed shall include only conditions related to the offense and in every case shall include a condition requiring satisfactory completion of substance abuse screening using an evidence-based tool and, if deemed appropriate following the screening, substance abuse assessment and substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or both. If the screener recommends substance abuse counseling, the person shall choose a state-certified or state-licensed substance abuse counselor or substance abuse treatment provider to provide the services.

(2) Substance abuse screening required under this subsection shall be completed within 60 days after the Diversion Program receives a summons and complaint. The person shall complete all conditions at his or her own expense.

(3) When a person has satisfactorily completed substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, and any other condition related to the offense which the Diversion Program has imposed, the diversion program shall:

(A) void the summons and complaint with no penalty due; and

(B) send copies of the voided summons and complaint to the Judicial Bureau and to the law enforcement officer who completed them. Before sending copies of the voided summons and complaint to the Judicial Bureau under this subdivision, the Diversion Program shall redact all language containing the person's name, address, Social Security number, and any other information which identifies the person.

(4) If a person does not satisfactorily complete substance abuse screening, any required substance abuse education or substance abuse counseling, or any other condition related to the offense imposed by the Diversion Program or if the person fails to pay the Diversion Program any required program fees, the Diversion Program shall file the summons and complaint with the Judicial Bureau for adjudication under 4 V.S.A. chapter 29. The Diversion Program shall provide a copy of the summons and complaint to the law enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation and shall provide two copies to the person charged with the violation.

(5) A person aggrieved by a decision of the Diversion Program or alcohol counselor may seek review of that decision pursuant to Rule 75 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

(g) Failure to Pay Penalty. If a person fails to pay a penalty imposed under this section by the time ordered, the Judicial Bureau shall notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who shall suspend the person's operator's license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle until payment is made.

(h) Record of Adjudications. Upon adjudicating a person in violation of this section, the Judicial Bureau shall notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who shall maintain a record of all such adjudications which shall be separate from the registry maintained by the Department for motor vehicle driving records. The identity of a person in the registry shall be revealed only to a law enforcement officer determining whether the person has previously violated this section. (Added 1999, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; amended 2003, No. 52, § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2003; 2013, No. 76, § 9.)