Alcohol and Drug-related Offenses

What is an alcoholic beverage?

The term “alcoholic beverages” is defined in Code of Virginia § 4.1-100 as including “alcohol, spirits, wine, and beer, and any one or more of such varieties containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume, including mixed alcoholic beverages, and every liquid or solid, patented or not, containing alcohol, spirits, wine, or beer and capable of being consumed by a human being.”

At what age is alcohol use allowed?

Age 21. It is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, or attempt to purchase or possess any alcoholic beverage (Code of Virginia § 4.1-305).

What is the penalty for someone under 21 possessing or purchasing alcohol?

For a first offense, the court may defer further proceedings and place the accused on probation subject to conditions imposed by the court that may include license suspension or restrictions. When proceedings are deferred, the court must require the accused to enter a treatment or education program, or both, depending on what the court believes best suits the needs of the accused. If the accused abides by the conditions, the court will discharge the person from probation and dismiss charges without an adjudication of guilt (Code of Virginia § 4.1-305.F).

If the conditions of probation are violated, the court can find the defendant guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor and order a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or a mandatory 50 hours of community service and suspend the driver's license of anyone 18 years of age or older for not less than six months or more than one year (Code of Virginia § 4.1-305.C).

What other penalties may apply for alcohol-related offenses?

Anyone (adult or minor) possessing or consuming alcohol on public school property may face up to $1,000 in fines and spend up to six months in jail.

Young adults (ages 18–20) who purchase, possess or drink alcohol, upon conviction, may lose their privilege to drive for not less than six months (and up to one year maximum). They face a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or must perform a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service. (§ 4.1-305.)

Using a fake ID to buy alcohol means that in addition to the penalties listed above for possession of alcohol, anyone convicted will lose their privilege to drive for not less than 30 days (and up to one year maximum). (§ 4.1-305.B)

Fraudulent use of a driver’s license, ID card or other identification materials:

  • It is illegal to use another’s ID as one’s own.
  • It is illegal to possess or sell an ID for the purpose of establishing false identification.
  • It is illegal to make or alter an ID.
  • Persons who possess, use or distribute false forms of ID are charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. (Code of Virginia § 18.2-204.1, 204.2)

A motor vehicle operator, age 20 or younger, with a blood or breath alcohol level between .02 and .07 could lose his or her privilege to drive for up to one year and incur fines starting at a mandatory minimum of $500 or be required to perform 50 hours community service. (Code of Virginia § 18.2-266.1)

What are schools required to do related to student alcohol possession or use?

Schools must handle conduct offenses involving alcohol in accordance with local school board student conduct policies.

Reportable Offense

Technologies such as breathalyzers to detect alcohol use must be used in accordance with policies that are consistent with school search guidelines outlined in the Virginia School Search Resource Guide (PDF). Breathalyzers are portable hand held devices that measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) by indirectly measuring the alcohol content in breath and can be used for onsite alcohol detection for students.

Code of Virginia § 22.1-277.2:1. authorizes school boards to require any student who has been found in possession of, or under the influence of, drugs or alcohol on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity to undergo evaluation for drug or alcohol abuse, or both, and, if recommended by the evaluator and with the consent of the student's parent, to participate in a treatment program.

Click each offense below to read the DCV Definition

AL1 — Alcohol

What resources are available to address underage alcohol use?

Reportable Offense

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has numerous publications and programs designed to restrict access to alcohol by those under age 21. Additional information is available at

Two Virginia-specific resources are also available:

A comprehensive portal of Federal resources for information on underage drinking is www.StopAlcoholAbuse.Gov

What Virginia laws are related to drugs and schools?

Code of Virginia § 18.2-255.2. prohibits the sale or manufacture of drugs on or near certain properties including public and private schools or property within 1,000 feet of a school, on any school bus, or at any school bus stop.

Is student drug testing permissible?

Code of Virginia § 22.1-279.6 states that “a school board may, in its discretion, require or encourage drug testing in accordance with the Board of Education’s guidelines and model student conduct policies required by subsection A [of section 22.1-279.6] and the Board’s guidelines for student searches required by § 22.1-279.7.”

The state statutory provisions do not require the adoption of drug testing programs by local school boards, but leave to local board discretion whether drug testing will be encouraged or required.

Reportable Offense

Guidelines Concerning Student Drug Testing in Virginia Public Schools (PDF), approved by the Board of Education on June 23, 2004, provides legal background information and guidance on policies and procedures.

The Guidelines state, “The question of whether to test students for drugs involves myriad complex issues that must be fully understood and carefully weighted before testing begins ... Before implementing a drug testing program, local school boards should consult with legal counsel familiar with the laws regarding student drug testing.” (p. 6)

What types of disciplinary action can be taken with a student who brings drugs to school?

A school board policy, in accordance with Code of Virginia § 22.1-277.08. must provide for the mandatory expulsion for a period of not less than one year of any student determined to have brought a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or marijuana as defined in § 18.2-247. onto school property or to a school-sponsored activity.

“One year” is defined as 365 days as required in federal regulation. (§ 22.1-277.06.)

A school board may establish policy and promulgate related guidelines for determining whether "special circumstances" exist that would allow for no disciplinary action or another disciplinary action, based on facts of a particular situation. A school board may, by regulation, authorize the division superintendent or his designee to conduct a preliminary review of such cases. (§ 22.1-277.06.)

School board policy may permit or require students expelled for drug-related offenses to attend an alternative education program provided by the school board for the term of the expulsion. (§ 22.1-277.2:1.)

Click each offense below to read the DCV Definition

D4G — Over the Counter Med. /Use

D5G — Over the Counter Med./Possession

D6G — Over the Counter Med./Sale/Distribution

DR1 — Possession/Use Schedule I/ II Drugs

DR2 — Possession/Use Inhalants

DR3 — Theft-Prescription Medications

DR4 — Sale/Distribution Schedule I/II Drugs

DR5 — Sale/Distribution/Paraphernalia Schedule III/VI Drugs

D16 — Drug Violation - Inhalants Use

D15 — Drug Violation - Inhalants Possession


What are Virginia laws related to tobacco?

Code of Virginia § 18.2-371.2. prohibits the purchase or possession of tobacco products by minors or sale of tobacco products to minors. Further, no person is permitted to sell or distribute to or purchase for or knowingly permit the purchase by any person less than 18 years of age.

Click each offense below to read the DCV Definition

TB1 — Tobacco Use, Posession, Sale, Distribution

T4B — Tobacco Paraphernalia

VDOE Discipline, Crime and Violence Definitions

The Virginia Department of Education updates DCV Definitions annually.

For more information on reporting, visit VDOE's School Safety section.

Code of Virginia

The Virginia General Assembly has posted the entire Code of Virginia online for web searching. You can perform a search by using key word(s), phrases or section numbers. You can also use the Table of Contents to view all Titles, Chapters, and Sections.

To explore the searchable Code of Virginia, go to the Virginia General Assembly Legislative Information System (LIS).