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.