What are the penalties for Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, Possession or Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, commonly referred to as Underage Drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A 6308, is classified as a non-traffic summary offense. The charge is NOT a misdemeanor or felony.  A first offense of Underage Drinking is punishable by a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.  While jail time is possible in an Underage Drinking case, judges rarely impose such a sentence.  For second and subsequent offenses, the maximum sentence increases to a $1,000.00 fine.  Many people think that a judge would never impose the maximum fine permitted by law.  It depends upon the area of the state.  State College judges routinely impose very fines in Underage Drinking cases.  Pennsylvania no longer suspends driving privileges for Underage Drinking, Possession of Fake ID, or drug possession offenses.

Criminal Record Implications of Underage Drinking

While a summary offense is not as severe as a felony or misdemeanor charge, a summary conviction may appear on a background search report.  Some employers limit background search reports to misdemeanor or felony convictions, but other employers request information about ANY criminal conviction.  Many employers understand that almost everyone consumed alcohol while being underage, so such an Underage Drinking conviction is not viewed as negatively as other summary convictions.  In most situations, an Underage conviction will often not prevent a person from getting a job, but, it is also common sense to udnerstand that having no record is better than having any record.  Also, jobs in the medical field, like doctors and nurses, should avoid any alcohol-related conviction as those professions treat such convictions more severely.

For many first time offenders, judges may offer diversionary programs that allow a person to have the Underage charge dismissed, and after being dismissed, the expungement process to have records of the incident destroyed.

Penn State Underage Drinking Attorney

If you or your child was charged with Underage Drinking at Penn State University, you can get a free consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney at JD Law.  Our lawyers have experience in handling cases through the criminal justice or court system and through Penn State’s disciplinary system.  Give us a call at (814) 689-9139 or contact us via email.