The Supreme Court nomination hearings have spurred a national discussion about underage drinking, among other topics. However, many students may believe that a Pennsylvania underage drinking citation is not a serious matter. Therefore, to help parents and students understand the consequences of underage drinking, we discuss some of the potential penalties.
The Legal Drinking Age in Pennsylvania
As in all other states, the legal drinking age is 21 in Pennsylvania. You could be charged with a crime by law enforcement officers if you are caught consuming alcohol while under the age of 21 years. A “citation” may seem like a minor offense. However, an underage drinking citation has several serious consequences that could have an impact on your future.
You could face fines and jail time for an underage drinking conviction. The amount of the fine and the jail sentence depend on several factors, including whether this is your first charge of underage drinking. Therefore, a conviction of consuming alcohol as a minor could result in a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and a $500 to $1,000 fine. As you can see, a citation for underage drinking is not a “minor” offense.
Suspension of Driving Privileges
You could lose your driving privileges for an underage drinking conviction. If you do not have your learner’s permit, you may not obtain your permit until the end of the suspension period. For high school students and college students who depend on their vehicle to get back and forth to school and a job, having their driver’s license suspended could have a significant impact on their ability to get to school and work.
An underage drinking citation is not just a criminal matter. Many colleges and schools penalize students who find themselves in legal trouble. Participation in some extra-curricular activities could be suspended for underage drinking. In addition, the school may refer the student to counseling or alcohol education.
Fighting an Underage Drinking Citation
You may be tempted to pay a fine for an underage drinking citation, especially if the judge does not add jail time and the fine is relatively low. However, when you agree to pay a fine, you are pleading guilty to the charge. Pleading guilty to the charge results in a criminal record. If you receive another citation for drinking, you may face penalties that are more severe for a subsequent charge.
As with any criminal charge, it is in your best interest to consult with an Erie criminal defense attorney before you accept a plea bargain or pay a fine. You may have one or more valid defenses to the criminal charges that could result in a dismissal of the charges or a reduction in the criminal charge. An Erie underage drinking attorney can explain your legal rights and your options for fighting the charge.
Call Now to Speak to an Erie Criminal Defense Attorney
Contact The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to request a free legal consultation with our Erie criminal defense attorney. Police officers and the judge will not tell you if your legal rights were violated. We will!