Anyone that’s ever spent a weekend hanging around most colleges knows that underage drinking is not at all an uncommon experience, even if it is illegal in all 50 states. In Pennsylvania, underage drinking is actually a criminal offense, and criminal penalties and other negative consequences for a convicted underage offender can ensue.
But being arrested for underage drinking is not the same as being convicted of underage drinking, and an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can pursue strategies on your behalf to defend your present and future interests.
The Penalties for Underage Drinking in PA
Underage drinking in Pennsylvania is considered a “summary offense,” and a person under the age of 21 may be convicted for purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing, consuming, or transporting liquor, beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.
For a first offense, a person under 21 can be ordered to pay a $500 criminal fine and lose their driving privileges for up to 90 days. For a second offense, a convicted defendant can be ordered to pay a $1000 criminal fine and lose their driving privileges for up to a year.
In addition, the offense will go on the defendant’s criminal record, which may have to be disclosed to colleges, graduate schools, and employers in the application process, and could potentially affect other issues like insurance rates.
Defending Yourself in a PA Underage Drinking Matter
Again, an arrest is not the same as a conviction, and, as with all other criminal offenses, prosecutors must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before securing a conviction.
By working with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney, your attorney can help explore a variety of legal strategies to defend your interests, including casting doubt on the sufficiency of the evidence brought against the underage defendant and the constitutionality of the police officer’s actions in approaching, detaining, and searching the defendant. A criminal defense attorney can also negotiate favorable treatment for the defendant with the judge and prosecutors presiding over the matter.
Note also that Pennsylvania law provides protections against criminal penalties for underage defendants when the person in question took steps to notify authorities and first responders of the need for medical attention.
Work With a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney in Your Underage Drinking Matter
If you or a family member have been arrested for underage drinking in Pennsylvania, you are encouraged to take the steps necessary to limit the consequences on your future and career. Speak with a criminal defense attorney today at the law office at the Martin Law Firm, P.C. in Southeastern Pennsylvania regarding your legal defense options.