Although it’s a veritable rite of passage for the 21-and-under crowd to experiment with alcohol, even in Westmoreland County, whether on their own accord or at the bequest of peers, the state of Pennsylvania makes drinking illegal until one’s 21st birthday. Likewise, it is against the law to furnish alcohol to a minor. If you or your child are facing an underage drinking charge, or if you were charged with purchasing alcohol for a minor, then you need an experienced underage drinking lawyer by your side as you face the legal battle that lies ahead.
In decades past, while alcohol consumption by minors was taboo, laws prohibiting it were rarely enforced. Flash forward to today and you’ll see that police are vigorous in their pursuit of these types of charges, often shoving their way into parties and citing everyone on the property with underage drinking charges. In many instances, those accused are arrested without real evidence that they did anything wrong.
Penalties for Underage Drinking
For those convicted of underage drinking, the consequences go beyond paying a fine of up to $500 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for any subsequent convictions. Convicted persons also face a 90-day license suspension just for a first-time conviction; get cited again and you lose your driving privilege for a year. A third conviction results in you losing your right to drive for two years.
Defense Strategies for Underage Drinking Charges
Our Westmoreland County underage drinking attorney has a history of helping kids and families just like yours overcome alcohol-related offenses, including underage drinking, possession of alcohol by a minor, purchase of alcohol by a minor, and possession of forged IDs. We also handle cases involving purchasing alcohol for a minor and corruption of a minor that stems from underage drinking allegations.
Our strategy may be multi-pronged when fighting your underage drinking charge. We may challenge the legality of the charge itself; did the police have a constitutional reason to enter the premises where the charge was levied? Was a proper breathalyzer test given to the accused, and was the test done using functional equipment and by a trained officer? At the same time, in some cases, we may look to negotiate with the court to have the charge of underage drinking reduced to a less-serious offense, such as a noise violation or disorderly conduct. In some cases, an alternative sentencing diversion program may be a good solution to having the charge taken off the table; in this scenario, the accused finishes a court-ordered program and walks away without a criminal record.