Despite being illegal, drinking while under the age of 21 is still a common practice for people all around the United States. Drinking while younger than 21 can lead to underage drinking charges and other alcohol-related charges that can impact a young person’s ability to succeed when they get older. Underage drinking charges are serious and may require the help of an experienced underage drinking lawyer.
The Delaware County underage drinking lawyers at Young Marr & Associates are available to help anyone facing an underage drinking charge. Decades of experience empower the attorneys at Young Marr & Associates to fight for clients of all ages. You can set up a consultation — which is free and confidential — by calling (866) 781-4058 to learn more about how a skilled legal professional can defend you or your child against underage drinking charges.
Underage Drinking Offenses in Delaware County, PA
The official charge for drinking while under the age of 21 in Pennsylvania is called “Purchase, Consumption, Possession or Transportation of Liquor or Malt or Brewed Beverages.” This charge can be filed against any underage person that drinks alcohol, but it also applies to those younger than 21 who attempt to purchase alcohol, have alcohol in their possession, or transport alcohol in their car or on their person.
If an underage person lies about their age to buy alcohol from a liquor store or other alcohol vendor, they could face a Misrepresentation of Age to Purchase Liquor or Malt or Brewed Beverages charge. Similarly, using an identification card that falsely represents that underage person’s name or date of birth can result in a Carrying a False ID charge; this charge also applies to those with an ID that was issued to someone else.
It is also common for underage drinkers to face DUI charges. While a typical DUI in Delaware County requires a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, someone under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if they have a BAC of just .02%.
An exception to these laws can be made for underage drinkers who call 911 to seek help for someone in need of immediate medical attention. This is a type of Good Samaritan law; in Pennsylvania, specifically, it is called the Safe Harbor Law. According to the Safe Harbor Law, underage drinkers are protected from prosecution if they can prove the following:
- Law enforcement became aware of the underage drinking only after they were called for a medical emergency
- The underage person who called emergency service personnel reasonably believed that they were the first one to call for medical help
- The caller provided their name to first responders
- The caller stayed at the scene until emergency personnel arrived
Penalties for Underage Drinking in Delco
If the underage person in question faces a charge of Purchase, Consumption, Possession or Transportation of Liquor or Malt or Brewed Beverages, they may face a 90-day driver’s license suspension or 90 days in jail if it is their first offense. Second and third offenses carry penalties that include higher fines and lengths of jail time.
Underage drinkers who misrepresent their age so that they can buy alcohol may face a 90-day license suspension, a $300 fine, and/or 90 days in jail on a first offense. An underage drinker facing charges of Carrying a False ID may also face a 90-day license suspension and 90 days in jail if it is their first offense.
Underage drinkers that have also been charged with a DUI face much more severe penalties. A first offense may carry a jail term of six months, while a jail term for a third offense can last up to five years. A first DUI offense also carries fines of between $500 and $5,000, while a third offense carries fines of up to $10,000. Also, first and second DUI offenses will likely result in a 12-month license suspension, while third offenses result in 18-month suspensions. Underage drinkers who are charged with DUIs will also have to complete drug and alcohol evaluations for review by a judge and an alcohol highway safety program.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Underage Drinking Charges
A lawyer can help you with an underage drinking charge by ensuring that you receive fair legal treatment throughout the entire process. An experienced underage drinking attorney will be able to determine whether police respected your Fourth Amendment rights when you were arrested. If law enforcement did not behave professionally during your arrest, it is possible that your underage drinking case may be dismissed. In a DUI case, a lawyer can check whether police followed protocol while administering the test that determined your BAC.
A lawyer can also help underage drinkers dealing with DUIs enter into diversionary programs that remove DUI convictions from driving records. If you lose your license as a result of an underage drinking charge, a lawyer may be able to help you get an occupational limited license that will allow you to drive to school and work.
Get in Touch with a Delaware County Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer Today
If you have concerns about how underage drinking charges might affect your future or the future of your child, get in touch with the experienced Bucks County underage drinking lawyers at Young Marr & Associates today. With a legal team that has years of experience in the field of criminal law, Young Marr is prepared to fight for you or your loved one. Schedule a free consultation with Young Marr & Associates today by calling (866) 781-4058.