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3 myths about underage drinking to know before partying

While partying is a part of college life, do not assume the law will let you off easy. Knowing the legal penalties of certain actions can keep you from unintentionally getting yourself into trouble.

If you believe any of these myths, review the truth before going to the next party. It may come as an unpleasant surprise what constitutes a crime and what the consequences are.

1. Underage drinking means you actually consume alcohol

You may be responsible and control yourself at a party, not participating in the drinking and games because you are not yet 21. Unfortunately, that is not enough to protect you from charges should the police show up. Pennsylvania law for underage drinking is broad, covering the following in addition to consumption:

  • Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol
  • Transporting alcoholic beverages
  • Possessing alcohol

Even holding an alcoholic beverage for someone or being at a table full of drinks can lead to charges. The prosecution does not have to prove consumption due to the broad scope of the law. If you are underage, it may be best to skip the parties altogether to avoid any misinterpretation by officers.

2. The Good Samaritan law protects you from underage drinking charges

While the Good Samaritan law does offer protection, it has its limits. The law allows you to call for medical help if a friend overdoses and not receive punishment for underage drinking you may have done. However, you must meet certain requirements which prevent students from taking advantage of this pass. Additionally, it does not protect you from other criminal charges that may apply, nor does it offer immunity to your over-intoxicated friend.

3. The penalties for underage drinking are not a big deal

The punishment for a first offense is $500, a 90-day loss of driving privileges in Pennsylvania and possibly 90 days in jail. This hurts your (or your parents') wallet and affects your ability to get to work and school. Furthermore, potential employers can find the record of the charges or conviction, even after an expungement, and you may even have to report it on applications for future employment and education.

Do not underestimate the long-term effects of underage drinking. If you make this mistake and face charges, do something right by calling a qualified attorney.

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