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. 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 in which the charge was filed. Many judges will impose relatively low fines, such as $50.00 to $100.00, but State College judges routinely impose much higher fines in Underage Drinking cases.  Pennsylvania does NOT suspend 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 Drinking conviction will not prevent a person from getting a job, but, it is also common sense to understand that having no record is better than having any record.  With jobs in the medical field, like doctors and nurses, drug or alcohol related offenses are viewed more negatively.

For many first time offenders, judges may offer diversionary programs that allow a person to have the Underage charge dismissed in exchange for completion of alcohol classes, community service, and payment of court costs. A dismissed charge is NOT automatically removed from the records. In order to have the records destroyed, a person must go through the expungement process.

Penn State Underage Drinking Attorney

Facing an Underage Drinking in State College, get a free consultation with a knowledgeable 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.  Leave us a message at (814) 689-9139 or contact us via email.