Individuals younger than the age of 21 are not allowed to consume or possess alcohol. Furthermore, someone who is younger than 21 in Pennsylvania or any other state is not allowed to transport or attempt to purchase beer, liquor or similar products. Those who are not allowed to transport beer are typically not allowed to do so even if others are in the car with them.
Generally speaking, the penalties for violating underage alcohol laws get progressively harsher each time a person is convicted of an offense. The penalty for a first offense is typically a $500 fine while the penalty for a second offense is a fine of up to $1,000. In many cases, first-time offenders will be allowed to participate in a diversionary program. If an individual completes the program, his or her case will be dismissed, and that person will not need to pay any fine.
However, court costs and other fees will still need to be paid. In addition to a fine, those charged with underage drinking could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. Individuals who may be subject to jail time will be informed of their right to counsel before any legal proceedings begin. Persons who are charged with providing alcohol to minors may also face jail time and a fine if convicted.
A person who possesses, consumes or transports alcohol before reaching the age of 21 may face significant penalties. A criminal defense attorney may help a person avoid jail time, a fine or other possible sanctions. This may be done by asserting that a defendant wasn’t aware that alcohol was in a vehicle or shared dorm room or that he or she was coerced or tricked into trying to purchase an alcoholic beverage.