Week of March 1, 2020
A weekly column by Police Chief Steven Wojnar of the Dudley Police Department
The parent of a college student had a question regarding transporting alcohol in a vehicle. If a person is under the age of twenty-one, are they allowed to drive a friend (who is over 21) to the store to purchase alcohol? The assumption is the underage driver was not drinking and has no connection to it whatsoever. He or she is simply providing transportation. Is there any violation of the law?
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34C is the section commonly known as minor transporting or carrying alcoholic beverages. No one under age twenty-one may carry or transport (in a vehicle) alcohol or alcoholic beverages, unless they are authorized. There are two main exemptions contained under the law. One is the driver must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. In this case, since the friend does not qualify as either of these, the driver can be subject to a violation under this section. The other exception applies when a person is over 18 and they are transporting alcohol in connection with work or business. This would include a delivery driver or similar occupation. Since the scenario posed above does not fit into one of these exemptions, there would be a violation.
A violation of this law is arrestable and penalties call for a fine ranging from fifty dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars depending on the offense. A conviction under this section does require the Registry to be notified and calls for a ninety-day license suspension. This can have a serious impact on someone’s life, especially an 18-20-year-old college student. The law is designed to limit the contact between minors and alcohol. People under twenty-one must pay strict attention to this in order to avoid problems.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, feel free to visit our web site at www.dudleypolice.com. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.
Chief Steven Wojnar has been with the Dudley Police Department for nearly 30 years. Wojnar worked his way up the department, first becoming a Dispatcher/Reserve Police Officer in 1988 and a Full-Time Patrolman in 1990. In 2002, Wojnar received a promotion to the rank of Sergeant, and less than a year later in 2003 became the Chief of Police. He recently served as the President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association from December 2017-December 2018.