It is a familiar scenario for alcoholic beverages to be unlawfully offered to minors (i.e., individuals under 21 years of age) on university and college campuses and other venues throughout the year, especially on weekends and holidays when popular activities, such as sporting events, rock concerts, and fraternity, sorority and/or private parties are taking place. Gatherings of large numbers of people, loud music or noise, fighting or raucous behavior, and other reasons can compel campus, municipal or state police to investigate, oftentimes resulting in multiple individuals being arrested for direct or constructive possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages. Arrests also may occur when the police observe: (a) minors carrying or transporting alcoholic beverages by hand or in a motor vehicle; or (b) the aftermath of an evening of consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, such as staggering gait, slurred speech, disorientation, loss of consciousness, vomiting, or alcohol poisoning.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibits the purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages by a minor. 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6308 (Purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages) makes it a criminal offense if a person less than 21 years of age, attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possesses or knowingly and intentionally transports any liquor or malt or brewed beverages. It is no defense to this crime that the liquor or malt or brewed beverage was consumed in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the citation for underage drinking was issued.
The penalties for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6308 may include a fine and restriction of operating privileges. A person convicted of violating subsection (a) of 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6308 may be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for the first violation and not more than $1000 for the second and each subsequent violation.
Further, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6310.4 (relating to restriction of operating privileges), when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation suspends the operating privilege of a person for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6307 (relating to misrepresentation of age to secure liquor or malt or brewed beverages), 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6308 (relating to purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages) or 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6310.3 (relating to carrying a false identification card), the duration of the suspension shall be (a) for a first offense, a period of 90 days from the date of suspension; (b) for a second offense, a period of one year from the date of suspension; (c) for a third offense, and any offense thereafter, a period of two years from the date of suspension. Any multiple sentences imposed shall be served consecutively.
Arrests or citations also may occur if (a) the minor knowingly and falsely represents himself to be 21 years of age or older to any licensed dealer, distributor or other person for the purpose of procuring or having furnished to him, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages; or (b) the minor possesses a false identification card.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibits a person under the age of 21 years from knowingly and falsely representing himself to be 21 years of age or older to any licensed dealer, distributor or other person, for the purpose of procuring or having furnished to him, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages. A person who violates this prohibition is guilty of a summary offense for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree (maximum one year imprisonment and/or $2,500 fine) for any subsequent violations. Further, in addition to restriction of operating privileges, a minimum penalty of a fine of not more than $500 for subsequent violations may be imposed.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibits a person under the age of 21 years from possessing an identification card falsely identifying that person by name, age, date of birth or photograph as being 21 years of age or older or obtaining or attempting to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages by using the identification card of another or by using an identification card that has not been lawfully issued to or in the name of that person who possesses the card. A person who violates this prohibition is guilty of a summary offense for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree (maximum one year imprisonment and/or $2,500 fine) for any subsequent violations. Further, in addition to restriction of operating privileges, a minimum penalty of a fine of not more than $500 for the second and subsequent violations may be imposed.
In addition to the criminal penalties, fines and license suspensions described above, a conviction of underage drinking and/or related offenses may damage one’s opportunity for obtaining future higher education, gainful employment, loans, and housing, to mention just a few of the possible negative outcomes. At the same time, the internet has made it easy for anyone — such as employers, banks, landlords, and college admissions officers — to pull up arrest records immediately. Therefore, if you have been arrested or cited for underage drinking and/or related offenses, it is very important that you retain trained and experienced legal counsel as soon as possible so that all of your federal and state constitutional and legal rights are protected, and your chances for achieving a favorable outcome are maximized.
Our record of success and victory in criminal cases speaks for itself. If you, or a loved one, are facing an underage drinking or related criminal offense, you can rely upon the nearly 40 years of legal knowledge, training, trial skills and unsurpassed experience of each of the attorneys at Charles Law Offices to zealously defend and represent your legal interests at the highest level. When your freedom and reputation are on the line, you can’t afford anything less!
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the attorneys at Charles Law Offices.
The Charles Brothers’ devotion to the law is derived from a family history in the legal system and of service to others. Their father, Charles “Chink” Charles (depicted in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph) held a 35 year career in law enforcement, and was selected to serve as the personal bodyguard for former United States Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson during their campaign visits to Allentown.