Laws Regarding Alcohol

Virginia laws concerning the purchase, possession, consumption, sale, and storage of alcoholic beverages include the following:

Underage Possession: Individuals must be at least 21 years of age to purchase, possess, and/or consume alcohol. It is illegal to purchase for, give, or sell alcoholic beverages to persons who are under age 21 and/or intoxicated. Penalties for violations include fines of up to $2,500 (mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service), loss of Virginia driver’s license for six months to one year, and possible jail time.

Public Consumption: Virginia laws prohibit both possession of open containers of alcohol in public and the consumption of alcohol in unlicensed public places. This prohibition applies to alcohol in any form or container, including but not limited to bottles, cans, cups, and sports bottles. Penalties for violations include fines of no more than $250.

Public Drunkenness: Public drunkenness or disorderly conduct of any kind may result in possible penalties of a fine of not more than $250. Disorderly conduct includes but is not limited to cursing profanely in public.

False Identification: Virginia laws prohibit possession, use, sale, and/or manufacture of false identification cards. Possession of a false driver’s license or the fraudulent/deceptive use of a driver’s license to purchase alcohol can result in fines of up to $2,500, imprisonment for a period not to exceed one year, and loss of driver’s license for six months to one year.

Sale of Alcohol: Sale of an alcoholic beverage requires a license from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). It is illegal to purchase for, give, or sell alcoholic beverages to persons who are under age 21 and/or intoxicated. Possible penalties for violations include fines of no more than $2,500 and up to one year in jail.

Driving under the Influence: A driver under the age of 21 is legally considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol if his/her blood alcohol content is .02 percent or higher. Punishment for underage drinking and driving includes the loss of one’s license for one year and a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or fifty hours of community service.

Virginia law presumes a driver age 21 or older to be under the influence of alcohol if his/her blood alcohol content is .08 percent or greater. However, if impairment occurs before that level is reached and with additional evidence, a driver whose blood alcohol content is below .08 may be convicted of driving under the influence. In addition, it is unlawful for any person to drive under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and/or alcohol sufficient to impair the ability to drive safely. Virginia’s implied consent law provides for license revocation for those who refuse to take a blood or breath test.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol in Virginia include:

  • mandatory minimum fine of $250 and driver's license revocation for one year for all first offenses ($500 if under age 21);
  • mandatory confinement for five days if the offender’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15% and for ten days if the BAC is 0.20%. (Longer confinement terms apply to subsequent offenses.); and
  • if convicted of a DUI while transporting a person 17 years old or younger, an additional minimum fine of $500 - $1,000 and a mandatory jail term of five days apply.

Neither presence on campus nor residence in College housing shields a student from obligation to adhere to alcohol laws and College alcohol policies.