With the national news coverage of the tragic death of Timothy Piazza at a Penn State University fraternity party earlier this year, the subject of underage drinking on college campuses in Pennsylvania and throughout the company has been the topic of many discussions. For many college students, parties and drinking are part of college life. However, when the consumption of alcohol is taken to excess, the consequences can be overwhelmingly tragic.
However, even with the increased news coverage of drinking on college campuses, many college students at Pennsylvania colleges do not know three basic facts about underage drinking.
In a tragic story reported by the Associated Press in the New York Post, we learned about the deaths of three young people in a traffic accident in Bethel Park near Pittsburgh this month. According to the story, three young women were in an SUV when it collided with a utility pole on Library Road.
Tragically, the driver, a 21-year old single mother, and two passengers (ages 23 and 17) were killed in the crash. A fourth passenger, a 21-year-old female, was thrown from the SUV and was transported to a Pittsburgh hospital where she remained in critical condition.
I do not know anyone who does not feel a little apprehension when they see blue lights flashing behind them while driving. Being pulled over by an officer does not need to be a stressful event; however, it is often a bit intimidating. Knowing what to do when you are pulled over can make the situation less stressful for you and the officer.
If you feel you have not done anything wrong, a traffic stop is not the time to argue. Just because the officer issues a traffic ticket does not mean that you are guilty of the charge. Being polite and respectful at the traffic stop and then calling our office to fight the charge is your best option. However, what happens if the police officer requests that you exit the vehicle?
Underage drinking is a serious problem throughout the United States. Even with the increase of educational programs and PSAs, there are still a large number of teenagers who drink alcohol. According to information provided by SADD, 26.4 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years reported using alcohol within the past 30 days.
Almost 18 percent of those report binge drinking. Almost three-quarters of high school students have used alcohol before graduation and a third of middle school student report consuming alcohol by eighth grade. Now, it appears that parents have another thing to worry about — alcohol delivered right to their door.
If you enjoy consuming alcohol on occasion or even on a regular basis, you may have heard a lot of stories about how to avoid getting drunk. Many of these stories are myths. While it is certainly okay to enjoy alcohol, it is not okay to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. The penalties you face from a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania are steep and go far beyond a simple fine. Below are four of the myths about alcohol consumption. Do you know which ones are myths and which ones are true?
“But I was not driving! I was only a passenger in a car when I was drinking, and I was charged with a crime. How can I be charged with a crime if I was not drinking and driving?”
Does this sound familiar? You may assume that charges related to alcohol are only applicable to the driver of the vehicle, but that is an incorrect and potentially harmful assumption.
It may not seem like a big deal to enjoy a beer or two at a frat party, especially if you have no intention of driving afterward. However, drinking under the age of 21 is considered illegal in Pennsylvania, and you could face serious consequences if you are caught. All it takes is one phone call from a neighbor to have the police knocking on the door of a frat house. If you are caught drinking while underage, you face serious penalties that could effectively ruin your college education and career. The penalties escalate if this is not your first criminal offense.
Penalties for Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania
A charge of underage drinking is considered a non-traffic summary charge. While it’s not a misdemeanor or felony, it could result in jail time if the person is convicted. A first offense carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, along with fines up to $500 and license suspension for 90 days. If you receive a second charge, the fine goes up to $1,000 with a one-year license suspension. Subsequent offenses increase the suspension period to two years. Most of the time, the person receives probation instead of jail time, but the license suspension still stands.
Violating Probation By Underage Drinking
If you have been convicted of a prior DUI or other criminal offense and you are on probation, you must be very careful. A beer or two at a frat party can be considered a violation of your probation. Therefore, you will be charged with underage drinking AND violating probation if you are caught drinking while underage. Suddenly, those beers just cost you much more than a hangover the next day.
In addition to fines and possible jail time, a second charge or subsequent charges automatically increase your license suspension for underage drinking. An experienced attorney can help you get the jail time reduced or removed. However, you must consider the impact of the license suspension. A longer suspension term makes getting to class or work more difficult. You may not be able to go home to see your parents or get where you want or need to go. Two years is a long time to go without your driver’s license.
Call Our Edinboro DUI Defense Attorney Now for A Free Consultation
If you have been charged with a first or second offense of underage drinking or any subsequent charges, you need to hire an attorney. Your Edinboro DUI attorney works to see that you are treated fairly. Your attorney monitors your case to prevent your rights from being violated and provides sound legal advice about the best way to proceed regarding the criminal charge.
Even though the charge isn’t a felony or misdemeanor, a conviction can go on your public record, which may be seen by potential employers and landlords, among others. It’s important to hire an Edinboro DUI defense attorney who will work to protect your future from a conviction of underage drinking.
Contact The Travis Law Firm toll-free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Edinboro DUI defense attorneys.
Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol is a pretty serious offense. A DUI conviction has major consequences that impact you for months or years after the fact. When you are out with friends, it can be easy to make a poor decision resulting in a DUI charge. Unfortunately, the penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Pennsylvania are severe.
A first-time offender can lose his driver’s license, in addition to fines and jail time, which makes it difficult to get to school or work. Thanks to a new law, an ignition interlock device may give first-time DUI offenders a second chance by allowing them to keep their driver’s license. However, there are costs that the driver must bear for an ignition interlock device.
Because it is illegal to drink or purchase alcohol under the age of 21, many teenagers and young adults attempt to find a way to get around the law. They may have older friends or family members purchase alcohol for them, or they purchase fake ID cards from companies or individuals. A fake ID gets them in bars and clubs where they aren’t allowed. Fake IDs give them the ability to purchase alcohol in stores or a bar. However, experienced bartenders, cashiers, and bouncers are getting better at spotting fake IDs, even high-quality fake IDs. Police officers are extremely good at spotting a fake ID.
Parents often feel they aren’t heard enough on their teenagers when they try to explain the dangers of alcohol consumption. Underage drinking is not only dangerous — it is illegal in every state. Explaining the penalties for a conviction on a charge of underage drinking may have more of an impact that simple telling your teenager it is wrong to consume alcohol if you are a minor.
Legal Age for Drinking
The legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21 years of age, as it is in every state. There is no exception to this law. While drivers under the age of 21 years represent a small proportion of drivers, this age group accounts for 12 percent of alcohol-related car accident fatalities. Underage drinking and driving is a serious issue that all parents must face with their teen drivers. The peer pressure to drink alcohol can be overwhelming. Having an open, honest dialogue with your teen driver is the first step in protecting him or her from the dangers of underage drinking and driving.
To be charged with driving under the influence, drivers under age 21 only need a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02, as opposed to the legal limit of 0.08 for drivers above the age of 21.
The Penalties for Underage DUI in Pennsylvania
If a person under 21 years of age is charged with DUI, he or she can receive up to 90 days in jail for a first conviction. That penalty goes up to six months for a second offense. Fines start at $300 for a first offense with costs of as much as $2,500 for repeat offenses. If the BAC is 0.10 or more, your child loses his or her driver’s license for 12 months. For all second offenses, drivers under 21 years of age can have their license suspended for one year.
Pennsylvania has an implied consent law regarding impaired driving. If you refuse a BAC test, the penalties may be even higher for a DUI. Drivers who are drinking underage may be charged with other offenses, including possession of false identification, if they used a fake ID to obtain alcohol.
The penalties go beyond what happens to the underage drinker. Parents who allow a minor to drink alcohol in their home can be charged with furnishing alcohol to minors. This charge carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000 or more. A social host law is in place within the state that makes the person providing alcohol to minors responsible if that person is injured or injures someone else because of alcohol consumption.
Insurance companies can drop minors who receive a DUI from coverage. If your insurance company continues to insure your child, your premiums can increase by $200 or more per month, which can make driving very expensive parents and teens. Parents need to educate their teenage children on the impact of drinking and driving before they get in trouble. They should help them understand the importance of not drinking and of calling for help if they have been drinking rather than getting behind the wheel.
You can get information about talking to your teenagers about underage drinking from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
Hire an Edinboro DUI Attorney
If a teen has been charged with DUI, you need to find an attorney for your child immediately. An experienced northwestern Pennsylvania DUI attorney provides solid legal counsel to help teens and their parents in this unfortunate situation. While prevention is the best option, dealing with the circumstances you find yourself in with the help of a lawyer is important. Remember that a DUI will haunt your teen driver and remain on his or her criminal record. A DUI conviction can have serious negative consequences on your child’s future.
Contact The Travis Law Firm toll free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Edinboro DUI attorneys.