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How to deal with an underage drinking charge in Philadelphia

As a parent of teenagers, you did your best to teach them right from wrong, and you hope they stay out of trouble. But teenagers in the Philadelphia area can find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time — like a house party that gets raided by the police. When the officers start handing out citations for underage drinking, your teen could get one.

Many times, teens and their parents do not take an underage drinking charge seriously. But they should. A conviction for underage drinking can be serious. First of all, a first conviction carries a fine of at least $500.

It also affects the convicted person’s driving privileges. If they have their driver’s license, it will be suspended for at least 90 days. For teens who are too young to get a license, they will have to wait at least 90 days after their 16th birthday to apply for their learner’s permit or license. For a second offense, the waiting period is one year. Imagine being 16 or 17 but not being able to drive for a year because of a couple of convictions for drinking alcohol.

What can we do about an underage drinking charge?

The first thing you should do about your child’s underage drinking ticket is not to take it lightly. Besides the penalties we discussed above, a conviction goes on your teenager’s criminal record. While it’s a minor offense, they still may have to disclose it on job and college applications.

Next, make sure you know your options. Your child may qualify for a diversion program that has them perform community service or attend classes. When they complete their task, the court will dismiss the charge. If a diversion program is not an option, your teen may be able to get the conviction expunged from their record in a few years.

Your kid’s best chance at an outcome they can accept is for you to hire a defense attorney to advise and represent them.

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