Being a professor at Miami University, I frequently have students ask me if it really is legal to drink with your parents even if you are under age. And the simple answer is yes. There is an exception to the drinking age law in Ohio, that allows under aged children to drink in the presence of their parents or legal guardians.

What’s the catch?

The catch is, you have to be in their presence and have their consent. If you go to a different bar, or if your parents go home. You are no longer protected under the exception. Additionally, if your roommate’s parents come in town, they cannot give you consent to drink. It is only your parent or your legal guardian.

Further, if your parents decide to leave the party or the bar and you are intoxicated and you go in public and make a scene. This law does not prevent you from being charged with public intoxication. So be mindful of where you go and what you do. “Mom and dad said it’s okay” is not a defense to you acting belligerent on the streets.

Do not drive

It should go without saying that if you are underage and drinking alcohol that you should not drive. But, just to be crystal clear- DO NOT DO IT. The legal limit for someone under the age of 21 is .02. If you get pulled over and the police officer thinks you have been drinking and you subsequently blow over a .02 you could be charged with a crime carrying up to 30 days in jail. If you blow over the adult legal limit of .08, you could be facing up to six months in jail. OVIs at any level- if you are under or over 21 are not expungeable, so they will be on your record permanently.

Be careful what you do. If your parents provide you with alcohol, and you in turn give it to a friend, you could subject your parents to criminal liability. Your parents could face furnishing to a minor charges and face up to 6 months in jail and a 1000 fine.

The point is, if you are at dinner or at a bar with your parents, you are allowed to have a beer. I always tell my students that I have two rules: 1) Don’t be stupid and 2) Don’t lie. This applies to the classroom, the courtroom and life. If you are with your parents and they consent to you consuming alcohol, do so responsibly.