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Exception to underage drinking charge in Pennsylvania

It is common knowledge that the legal drinking age in Philadelphia, like the rest of the United Sates, is 21 years of age. However, this does not stop people younger than 21 from drinking alcohol. This is especially true at the various colleges and universities in Philadelphia. Most do not think that the consequences outweigh the enjoyment they receive through drinking alcohol.

As a result many people in Philadelphia are also cited for underage drinking as well. For the most part, if a person under 21 is caught either consuming or possessing alcohol, they will be cited for underage drinking. There are defenses available depending on the facts of the case, but there are not many exceptions to the law.

There is one though that is important for young people to know. If a person calls the police or campus security to report another person needs immediate medical attention, then they cannot be issued a citation for underage drinking.

There are some requirements that must be met in order to be under this exception. The first is that the police would not have known about the situation unless that person called and the person reporting the emergency truly believed that the person needed immediate medical assistance. The second is that the person believed they were the first to call the police. The third is that the person calling used their real name and fourth is that they remained at the scene until police arrived.

If all these criteria are met the person will not be prosecuted. This is clearly so someone needing immediate medical attention gets it quickly. The law does not want to deter people from reporting emergencies simply because they are under 21 and consumed alcohol.

Many people in Philadelphia consume alcohol and are issued underage consumption citations as a result. However, if the person reports a medical emergency they are immune from prosecution. This is a narrow exception though. Almost anyone else may be subject to the consequences that come with an underage consumption citation. Experienced attorneys understand the laws about underage consumption and may be able help protect one’s rights.

Source: Pennsylvania State Legislature, “Title 18 § 6308” accessed on May 4, 2015


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