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Holiday Air Travel: Some Tips For Avoiding Trouble

In 2014, around 24 million people used the airports for travel around Thanksgiving. If you're planning on traveling by plane this year to visit relatives or friends, keep in mind that there are rules about traveling with marijuana or alcohol that need to be followed. Ignore those rules and you could face travel delays, fines, interrogation by TSA officials, and even arrest. This is what you should know about flying with medical marijuana and alcohol.

Leave the legal marijuana behind.

Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. allow some form of legal marijuana use, most for medical purposes. If you have a prescription for medical marijuana, you might think that you're able to take it with you when you fly (like any other prescription drug). However, the Transportation Security Administration is a federal agency and operates by its own rules. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Don't assume that an exception will be made if you're only flying within the state and state laws allow marijuana use. Colorado even allows recreational marijuana use, but the state's two largest airports have instituted serious restrictions on marijuana possession. First-time offenders in Denver can expect a $150 fine. If you're in Colorado, you could end up arrested. If you think that the rules are different in your state, call the airport and check with officials before you try to board a plane carrying your marijuana.

Proceed with care with the alcohol.

TSA rules do allow you to travel with alcohol in both your carry-on luggage and your checked baggage. Alcohol in carry-on bags has to be in clear bottles that are no bigger than 3.4 ounces each. (There's a reason those small bottles of alcohol are sold in liquor stores.) Larger bottles have to go in your checked luggage.

Remember, however, that you're limited to only one quart-sized plastic bag of liquids, gels, creams and pastes at a time, so make sure that all of your personal items and the liquor are securely inside the bag when you attempt to board the plane.

An exception is made for any duty-free alcohol purchased inside the airport shops after the security checkpoint, so if you want to take a nice bottle of rum or whiskey to your Dad or a favorite aunt, consider purchasing it at the airport. It'll save you a potential hassle.

Here's another catch about alcohol on planes: you can bring it, but you can't drink it. You're only allowed to drink alcohol that is served to you while you are on board the plane. If you attempt to sneak a sip or two of your own liquor to avoid paying $7 for an airline drink, you could end up with a $1,000 fine.

If you're afraid of flying and contemplating getting drunk before you get on board, don't. The legal results can be disastrous for you. An American Airlines flight had to make an unscheduled landing in Denver to turn a drunk passenger over to the police. The passenger faces over $17,000 in combined fines and reimbursement charges over the rerouted flight, plus up to a year in jail.

If you do end up in an unfortunate situation this holiday season because of marijuana possession in an airport or your use of alcohol on a plane, contact an attorney at right away to discuss your case.