Parents Can Make a Difference

Teens face difficult challenges when resisting the use of alcohol and other drugs. Together, parents and communities can prevent drug use among youth.

The following are some steps parents can do to help keep teens safe and drug free:

  1. Make sure your home is drug free.
  2. Actively chaperone all underage parties in your home.
  3. Do not serve or allow alcoholic beverages to be served (or even be on the premises) at underage parties or activities in or at your home.
  4. Take reasonable non-physical steps to prevent any teenager in your presence who appears to be intoxicated to drive; alert his/her parents of his/her condition.
  5. Call parents. Know your teen’s friends’ parents and encourage them to call you. Network with them.

Other Basics

  • Know where your teen is going.
  • Know whom your teen is with.
  • Know what your teen is doing.
  • Know when he/she will be home; be awake when he/she arrives.
  • Know what the consequences are if the rules are broken. Make lists or a contract with expectations spelled out. Put them in a prominent place, like the refrigerator. Make rules before problems start and be sure your teen is involved in the process.


When can a teenager be criminally charged as an adult?
A teen will be charged as an adult the day he or she turns 17 (except for certain very serious crimes when adult charges may apply).
Will a minor convicted of dealing drugs get a lighter punishment because he/she is not an adult?
No. A minor can be sentenced to serve time in a juvenile detention center. He/she could also be sent to live at a facility away from home for two years.
Is it possible for a person under 18 to be charged and go to prison for injuring someone else while driving under the influence of alcohol?
Yes, if that person is 17 years old and while driving under the influence causes serious bodily harm to another person. The sentence could be up to 15 years in prison. If the person is 16 years or younger, he/she might have to serve time in detention or be sent to live in a place away from home for two years. (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-394)
Is drinking alcohol by someone under 21 in a public place, regardless of who purchased it, against the law?
Yes. If under the age of 21, consumption and/or possession is the offense, not how possession was obtained or the manner in which it was acquired. It does not matter how much alcohol one has in his/her possession or whether it is consumed in a public or private place.
Is it legal for a minor to buy alcohol if he/she has his/her parent’s permission??
No, it is never legal for a minor to buy alcohol or to attempt to purchase alcohol.
What is the penalty for possessing marijuana?
If a person is 17 or older, possessing less than one ounce of marijuana could result in a fine of up to $1000 and/or up to 12 months in jail. Upon the second offense, there would likely be jail time. Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is a felony, punishable up to 10 years in prison.
Is it legal to purchase drug paraphernalia (drug related objects)?
No, possession of drug related objects is a crime.(O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.2)
If I am stopped for a traffic violation, can the car and its occupants be searched? Will I be responsible if someone in my car has marijuana in his possession?
Yes, if the officer has probable cause, they can search the car. You may be charged if someone in the car has illegal drugs, alcohol or drug-related objects, and the officer cannot determine to whom they belong.
If there were traces of marijuana found in my possession, could I be convicted of possession of a controlled substance?
If there is enough of the substance to test to determine what it is, there is enough to convict you, even if it is all consumed in the test, or even if you are merely holding a few marijuana seeds.
If a teen injures someone while driving under the influence of alcohol, can the parents be held liable?
If you knowingly allow your teen to drive a vehicle while intoxicated, and he/she injures someone as a result, you could be liable in civil court for damages.

Questions Asked By Parents & Teens

To the left are a number of questions asked by parents and teenagers about local alcohol and drug laws.

Jurisdiction of the Courts

For criminal liability, any person 17 years of age or older is considered an adult in the State of Georgia. Any person under 17 years of age is considered a juvenile by the law in the State of Georgia. There are certain serious, violent crimes which would cause a juvenile 13-16 to be charged as, and prosecuted as an adult.

Type of Offenses


Misdemeanors are offenses punishable with confinement of up to one (1) year and a fine of up to $1000 ($5000 in some circumstances). These are some misdemeanors:

  • Possession or consumption of alcohol under 21
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Possession of marijuana weighing less than one (1) ounce
  • Possession of drug related objects
  • Providing alcohol to a minor (except your own child)
  • Possession of dangerous drugs (including certain prescribed medications without the appropriate prescription in the name of the possessor)
  • Possession of an open container in a vehicle and that container has any amount of alcohol
  • Possession of prescription drugs not in original containers


Felonies are offenses punishable with confinement of more than one (1) year in the State Prison. These are some felonies:

  • Possession of more than one (1) ounce of marijuana
  • Possession of any amount of any controlled substance (excluding marijuana – less than an ounce) including, but not limited to the following:
  1. Cocaine – powder form (purity varies);
  2. “Crack” – rock form of cocaine (usually 100% pure);
  3. “Crank” – methamphetamine (meth) powder or solid (ice);
  4. Hallucinogenics (mescaline, LSD, PCP, “Angel Dust”, ecstasy);
  5. Amphetamines, depressants and many prescription drugs (Lortab, Xanax, Soma, Oxycontin) if no legal prescription


  • Serious injury by vehicle (when someone deprives another of a part of his body as a result of DUI)
  • 1st degree vehicular homicide (when someone causes the death of another as a result of DUI or reckless driving)
  • If convicted of a felony, consequences may include:
  • Inability to hold public office
  • Inability to vote, unless you have completed your sentence and probation/parole
  • Inability to get into professional schools such as medical, law, or dental
  • Inability to secure a surety bond (bond that protects one against losses resulting from another’s failure to meet an obligation)
  • Inability to take the Civil Service examinations
  • Exclusion from military service and military academies
  • Passport ineligibility
  • Denial of a license by the state for certain professions which require state licensure
  • Inability to possess a firearm
  • Exclusion from employment opportunities
  • Inability to get into certain colleges or universities

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