The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years of age. Anyone under the age of 21 caught consuming alcohol could face an underage drinking charge. However, if that person is operating a motor vehicle, the person could also be charged with underage DUI.
Underage DUI charges carry severe penalties in Pennsylvania. If you or your child was arrested for underage drinking and driving, contact our Erie DUI defense attorney immediately. There could be one or more defenses to the DUI charges that could result in a dismissal of the charge.
What Are the Laws for Underage DUI in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania Code §75-3802(e) states that it is illegal for a minor to operate, drive, or be in physical control of the movement of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or higher. The minor may be charged with underage driving under the influence if the minor’s BAC is .02 or higher within two hours after driving, operating, or being in physical control of the vehicle.
However, Pennsylvania is a “Zero Tolerance” state for underage drinking and driving. A person can be charged with driving under the influence if he or she is under the age of 21 years and has any alcohol in their system. The BAC does not need to reach .02 to be charged with DUI. A BAC of .02 or higher allows the minor to be punished with more severe penalties.
What are the Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving in Pennsylvania?
The penalties for an underage DUI conviction depend on several factors, including the age of the minor at the time of the arrest, BAC levels, and prior DUI convictions.
Juvenile underage DUI charges apply when the minor is 17 years of age or younger. Penalties for juvenile underage drinking and driving may include fines, probation, license suspension, alcohol treatment and education, and juvenile institutional commitment. The penalties are harsher when the juvenile has higher BAC or prior underage DUI convictions.
Adult underage DUI charges apply to minors between the ages of 18 and 20 at the time of the DUI arrest. Penalties for adult underage DUI convictions are more severe. An adult convicted of underage drinking and driving may serve jail time and pay significant fines. The sentence may include license suspension for 12 to 18 months, alcohol safety school, and alcohol treatment and education. The court may also order the installation of an ignition interlock.
Other Consequences of Underage DUI Convictions
In addition to the punishments issued by the court, minors convicted of underage driving under the influence face other consequences. A DUI conviction creates a criminal record, which could negatively impact the minor’s education and career opportunities. Additionally, the minor may pay much higher insurance rates for several years after the DUI conviction.
Contact an Erie Underage DUI Defense Lawyer Immediately
Underage drinking and driving charges are aggressively prosecuted in Pennsylvania. You or your child faces severe punishments if convicted. Don’t trust your future to an inexperienced attorney. Get advice from a skilled, trusted, experienced Northwestern Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney with a winning track record.
Call The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to schedule your free legal consultation with our Erie DUI defense attorney.