Underage drinking is all too common among, in particular, college students. Our attorneys at The Martin Law Firm, P.C. have represented many young adults facing this charge.
Purchase, Consumption, Possession or Transportation of Alcohol (18 P.S. § 6308)
The Montgomery County underage drinking law makes it an offense for a person under the age of 21 to attempt to purchase or purchase, consume, possess or knowingly and intentionally transport any liquor or malt or brewed beverages.
Underage drinking in Montgomery County is a summary offense. In Montgomery County, whenever a person faces a summary offense, the court having jurisdiction is one of the many Magisterial District Courts in Montgomery County.
Upon conviction for underage drinking, an individual may be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and a $1,000 fine for any subsequent offense. In addition, the individual will lose his or her drivers’ license privileges. For a first offense, the individual will be subject to a 90 day license suspension. For a second offense, a 1 year license suspension. For any additional offense, a 2 year license suspension.
Under the PA underage drinking law, not only will an individual face fines and license suspensions, the law mandates that a minor’s parents or guardians be immediately notified of the underage drinking violation.
Many universities in Montgomery County have established standards of student conduct related to alcohol consumption on and off of campus. For example, Temple University’s Student Drug and Alcohol Policy states certain violations of their alcohol policies can subject a student to a range of university sanctions, including, but not limited to, expulsion.
Pre-Adjudication Disposition (42 P.S. § 1520)
When a person is charged with an underage drinking offense, the statute authorizes the Magisterial District Judge to admit the offender into a pre-adjudication disposition program under 42 P.S. § 1520. Instead of making a determination of guilt, the Judge can place the defendant in a program in which a public service, charitable organization or political subdivision agrees to supervise the defendant. These programs typically include counseling, job training, education or work and provide a benefit to the community. Conditions of this program may include fines or restitution.
Other Defense Strategies
The Commonwealth bears the burden of proving each and every element of this offense. The most common defense strategy is these situations are under what circumstances did law enforcement become aware of the person’s violation? Criminal defense attorneys can review the facts and determine whether law enforcement acted properly under the law. Hiring a lawyer to defend you at the hearing will show the arresting officer and the Judge that you are taking responsibility for your action and this can increase your chances of a successful outcome.
If cited or arrested for underage drinking in PA, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980.