There are many young people in college in Philadelphia. In addition to going to class and studying, many of these students also consume alcohol from time to time. Drinking alcohol is seen as a good way to let loose and have a good time. It is a common activity and those who partake usually see others around them drinking and think it is a harmless activity. However, most people do not understand the consequences if they are convicted of underage drinking.
The consequences can be serious. Under Pennsylvania law, even for a first-time underage drinking conviction, a person may have to pay a fine of up to $500. The fine for any subsequent conviction can be up to $1,000. However, a fine is not the only consequence. Minors will face suspension of their drivers' licenses, as well. There is a 90-day mandatory suspension for a first-time offense, a one-year suspension for a second conviction and a two-year suspension for a third or subsequent conviction.
A conviction for underage drinking also can have long-term consequences. If convicted, the person has a permanent criminal record and the conviction may have to be disclosed on job or school applications. This could be a detriment to employment or future education.
However, the law does allow a person who is charged with underage drinking to enter into a diversion program if he or she is a first-time offender or has not previously entered into a diversion program. If admitted into the diversion program, the person can avoid a conviction if he or she completes certain requirements within an allotted amount of time. If there is no conviction, then the person may avoid some of the long-term consequences mentioned above.
As this post illustrates, a person who is charged with underage drinking may be facing serious consequences. However, simply being charged does not mean a person will be convicted. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Attorneys understand potential defenses to underage drinking and could be a helpful resource if one is charged with such an offense.
Source: Pennsylvania State Legislature, Pennsylvania Statute section 6308, accessed on Sept. 1, 2014