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Underage alcohol-related offenses and their consequences

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Criminal Law

More and more young adults are drinking alcohol before turning 21. Many of them drink under this age limit due to curiosity, bad influences or peer pressure. In Pennsylvania, the law is clear: underage drinking is illegal.

But drinking isn’t the only thing that can get young people in trouble. Other alcohol-related actions, like buying or carrying alcohol, can also lead to legal problems.

Understanding alcohol-related offenses

In Pennsylvania, the law says that people under the age of 21 can’t do anything with alcohol. This includes:

  • Trying to buy alcohol
  • Buying alcohol
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being in possession of alcohol
  • Transporting alcohol from one place to another

These rules apply to all types of alcohol, including liquor, malt or brewed beverages. Law enforcement can charge a person under 21 found committing any of these actions with a summary offense.

Legal and academic consequences of these offenses

A person convicted for the first time must pay a fine of up to $500. If they break the law again, the fine can go up to $1,000. These figures can be a significant financial burden, especially for young adults with limited income or savings.

In addition to legal consequences, there can also be academic ones. Many schools have rules about student behavior and breaking the law. So, if a student is caught doing something related to alcohol, they can face actions like counseling, educational programs, suspension or even expulsion.

Planning for any possibility

A summary offense on a person’s record can affect future job opportunities. Many employers do background checks. If they see an applicant with a criminal record, they might hesitate to hire them. That’s why taking these charges seriously is crucial. Defenses might include questioning the accuracy of the breath test or other tests or proving that the person didn’t know they were consuming alcohol. They can also argue that the alcohol was consumed in a state where the legal drinking age is lower than 21.

However, any person under 21 caught in Pennsylvania must face its laws and penalties, regardless of where they consumed the alcohol. This makes defending against an alcohol-related charge a complex process. Consulting with an attorney can be beneficial in this situation. An attorney can help explore possible defenses and negotiate for lesser charges or penalties where appropriate.



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