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Increased police presence at this year's Spring Fling at Penn

For many who attend the various colleges in Philadelphia, underage drinking is a regular occurrence. Students go to house parties or if they have fake identification, they may even try to drink at bars. Either way, underage drinking can be an ingrained part of a college student's social life. Most don't really think about the consequences of drinking, and if they do, they don't think there are very serious. However, underage drinking citations can have long-term consequences that college students should think about.

In order to avoid these consequences, underage students attending this year's Spring Fling had to be careful. There was an increased police presence on and around campus especially at the fraternity houses. Police said they would be going undercover at parties to see if there was any underage drinking occurring at the party. Many groups at the university decided to have dry events or move their events off campus to avoid this issue. During Spring Fling 2013, over 30 students received underage drinking citations.

The legal consequences do not deter many young people from drinking, especially at events such as Spring Fling. However, the consequences can be serious and go beyond just the legal ramifications. Minors can lose their driver's license even for a first time offense; the length of the suspension increases with each offense. Also, the person will have a criminal record and will have to disclose the offense on job and school applications.

While the consequences can have a detrimental effect on a young person's life, there may be defenses available and ways to keep the charges off a criminal record. The person may be able to enter into a diversion program and if they complete certain conditions, the charges will be dismissed.

While underage drinking in Philadelphia is a relatively common crime, a conviction can have serious consequences. Understanding the defenses to underage drinking and knowing the ways to keep them off a person's criminal record can be very important for one's future.

Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian, "Liquor police: 'Our presence was requested'," Melissa Lawford, April 9, 2014

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