Philadelphia Underage Drinking Charge Lawyer
Underage drinking is common place and typically seen as a rite of passage among our youth. Maybe you even allow your child to drink at home with their friends, rationalizing that they are going to do it anyway, so they might as well be safe at home. Or perhapsyour child is away at college and you both think little of it, as underage drinking is the accepted standard, rather than the exception, among college youth. Whether your thought process is “right or wrong” is not at issue – the illegality of underage drinking is clear.
Pennsylvania has in recent years decided to take underage drinking more seriously. A fine for a first offense has increased from $300 to $500, while a second time offense has doubled from $500 to $1000. And those are just the fines for consumption. Enabling underage drinking, providing alcohol to minors specifically, purchasing alcohol when under 21, and making, selling, or owning a fake ID are but a few underage drinking related offenses.
This is an issue that law enforcement is taking very seriously, and if you are charged with any underage drinking related offense, you will need an experienced defense attorney to fight fines and loss of license penalties.
Underage Drinking Is Illegal
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal:
- To purchase or attempt purchase of alcohol if under 21
- To possess alcohol if under 21
- To consume alcohol if under 21
- To knowingly transport alcohol if under 21
- To provide alcohol to those under 21
- To create, sell, or buy a fake ID
- To use a fake ID to buy alcohol
If found guilty of any of these offenses, fines, license suspension, and even jail time are all potential penalties. 90 day license suspensions are automatic for those under 21 found guilty of purchase, possession, or consumption. And – perhaps worst of all – if you are a minor, your parents will be notified of any alcohol related charge.
Remember, ANY amount of alcohol in an underage person’s system is a per se violation. This is essentially the legal way of saying ‘you are guilty as a matter of law in this situation’.
Pennsylvania has a “No Tolerance” policy for drinking under the age of 21. Any amount of alcohol in an underage person’s system constitutes an offense, while a BAC of .02 or higher will result in a DUI. This is such a low level that drinking any alcohol at all may result in a DUI.
This is a very serious offense which may result in significant fines, insurance premium increases, suspension of license, possible jail time, and a criminal record.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
The City of Brotherly Love is home to numerous of prestigious post-secondary schools, including University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, Jefferson University and Drexel University— just to name a few. As with many colleges around the country, these schools experience issues with underage drinking among their student bodies. Many of times, parents or the minors who receive underage drinking charges treat this offense lightly; usually writing it off, as “that’s what you do in college.” Although college is an opportunity to enjoy a sense of freedom from guardian rule, taking that liberty too far by receiving a charge for underage drinking can have serious ramifications that come with it.
You need to do everything you can to protect this young person. Everyone makes mistakes, especially in adolescence, but underage drinking offenses can have a long term impact, and need to be contested aggressively by an experienced criminal defense attorney. The facts are of the essence in these cases, and a knowledgeable attorney will work hard to discredit any damaging evidence, and poke holes in the Commonwealth’s case wherever possible.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.