Underage Drinking, Driving and Zero Tolerance in PA

Pennsylvania has enacted a number of Underage Drinking laws that include underage DUI charges. Title 18 of the Crimes Code contains laws pertaining to minors that are meant to uphold the Commonwealth’s “zero tolerance” for those under the legal drinking age of 21 who persist in drinking alcoholic beverages. According to the statute, it is against the law for anyone under 21 to buy, attempt to buy, transport, possess or consume any liquor, malt or brewed beverages. A violation under this section of the code is a summary offense.

Underage Drinking Penalties in Pennsylvania

While most summary offenses are just fines, the penalties for the above underage violations are more substantial.

A first offense will subject the accused to:

  • A fine from $0-$300
  • Up to 90 days in jail, and
  • License suspension for 90 days.

A second offense can result in:

  • $0-$500 in fines
  • Up to 90 days in jail, and
  • 1 year driver’s license suspension.

For 2 or more priors, the accused will face:

  • $0-$500 in fines
  • Up to 90 days in jail, and
  • 2 years suspension of driving privileges.

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minor dui under 21Driver’s License suspensions for underage drinking convictions will occur regardless of whether a vehicle was involved or the accused had a valid driver’s license at the time. It is important to know that the charges will be publically available whether or not an arrest occurred. Expunging the record of these charges may be possible with the help of an experienced Ebensburg or Cambria County defense attorney.

The best strategy is to avoid a conviction wherever possible. The consequences of a conviction include not only criminal penalties, but also the loss of employment opportunities. Underage drinking charges have impacted higher education opportunities as well.

If you or a loved one has been cited with an underage drinking violation, please call the law offices of Tibbott & Richardson today. We are local criminal defense lawyers experienced in defending these cases and can help you beat your charges, and/or get a favorable resolution that least affects your future. For a first offender with no prior criminal history, we may be able to obtain an adjudication alternative program for anyone under 18 years old.

For a first-time offender with no major priors who is 18 and over, an alternative rehabilitative disposition, or ARD , is possible. In both instances, if an alternative agreement is granted, all charges will be dismissed and all or most penalties dropped, so long as the participant meets all of the terms of the agreement.

Underage DUI Law

Because underage consumption is prohibited, the law looks for very little in terms of blood-alcohol to prosecute on an underage driving while intoxicated charge. All states have per se blood alcohol levels at which a driver will be presumed to be driving drunk. If the blood alcohol content (BAC) can be shown, it is enough to convict on DUI – per se, and further proof is not necessary.

For those under the legal drinking age of 21 in Pennsylvania, the per se BAC rate is .02%. This means that if someone under 21 registers higher than a .02 BAC, they will be subject to all penalties for underage DUI. If you are under 21 and suspected of DUI, you will face misdemeanor charges and the following penalties:

Prior DUIJail TimeLicense SuspensionFineProgramInterlock (IID)
1st DUI2 days to 6 months1 year$350 – $5,000Alcohol Safety School
2nd DUI30 days to 6 months1 year$750 – $5,000Alcohol Safety School1 year
3rd DUI90 days to 5 years1.5 years$1,500 – $10,000Alcohol Safety School1 year

The costs for a conviction are very high, especially given the fines imposed. In many cases, imprisonment is rarely sentenced. However, if any property damage resulted, or if any physical injuries occurred, the penalties are more severe and strictly imposed.

The good news is that underage DUI prosecution can be fought and successfully defended against. Call or contact Tibbott & Richardson today for an initial and free evaluation of your case. We are well-qualified defense attorneys in Allegheny, Cambria, and surrounding counties with the experience and specific DUI training necessary to help you resolve your legal troubles. We know how important these legal issues are to you, and we also understand they are time sensitive. Contact us at any time and we will respond promptly.