There are four basic "alcohol" crimes, public intoxication, open container, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and minor in possession. For minors, these charges can carry steep consequences, including a suspended license or impact their chances of getting into college. This post will address each crime in turn.
Public intoxication refers to the willful consumption of alcohol that results in your inability to act reasonably in public. The basic test is if you can care for yourself.
Open container laws prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public places or vehicles. Essentially, these laws prohibit the possession of alcohol containers that are open. Most of the time these charges only result in a fine however if your child is pulled over with an open container, she may face a DWI charge.
Also consider that if your child was found with an open container, she might also face a minor in possession charge. Minors are prohibited from possessing and imbibing alcohol. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege, and a possession charge would likely result in a suspended license or even jail time.
Finally, adults are prohibited from encouraging minors to engage in an unruly or delinquent behavior, i.e. consuming alcohol. Typically, adults are charged with this crime if they provide alcohol to minors (even parents).
If your child is facing an alcohol charge, then you may want to call a defense attorney. The police and prosecutors are willing to work with a child that expresses regret and produces a demonstrated record of good behavior, but it isn't a guarantee. In fact, prosecutors do often want to make examples of kids as a warning to others. An attorney can help ensure that your child is not used as a prop for law enforcement purposes.