The Costs of Underage Drinking

We continue our Tales From the Trenches series, where RCM Readers tell the stories. We want to hear from you – the scary, the funny, the outlandish, the sobering – send us your tales from the Parenthood Trenches and we’ll share them here.

I am a mom of five kids and one of mine got arrested this past Spring for underage drinking. This child was not driving or causing a disturbance, but did break the law by drinking underage while away at college. I’m sharing this story to help other families avoid getting into a similar situation.

I was shocked at the amount of money it cost for such a charge. My child was actually arrested but then released on their own recognizance.

How Much Does Underage Drinking Cost?

It started with $30 bail bond.


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Then my 19 year-old had to appear before a judge to request Youthful Offender Status. That was approved and then the application for Pretrial Diversion Program ($50) was submitted to the judge. Child was approved for the program and then had to pay $995 court, DA, and program fees.

Because this happened at the end of the semester and said child lived too far from college to report to a probation officer, the case was transferred to Madison County. The punishment included:


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  • Evaluation Fee $75
  • 4 AA meetings
  • Alcohol/Drug Class – $149.50
  • 40 hours of community service – a week of lost summer job pay
  • Monthly visits to probation officer with random drug tests: 1st visit $50, 2 visits @ $30 each, 1 w/drug test $50
  • Not permitted to leave state without permission

The case is now being transferred back to the college’s county and my child’s record should be expunged. But not before they lost their campus job, which was sorely needed to pay the $1,450+ fees. My child has learned a hard lesson as we did not pay the expenses.


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We all know as parents that underage drinking is illegal, but never in a million years did I know what it would cost my child. If I had known, I would have told my children of the consequences, and I know this child would not have taken the risk. It’s one thing to constantly tell teens about the illegalities of underage drinking, but truly feeling it to the tune of $1,450 speaks volumes that words sometimes can’t.

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