The Consequences of a Conviction for Underage Drinking

The Consequences of a Conviction for Underage Drinking

Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania—What to Expect

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, you must be at least 21 years of age to purchase or use alcoholic beverages. If you are arrested for underage drinking, you will be charged with what is known as a “summary offense,” the least serious criminal charge in Pennsylvania—less serious than misdemeanors. Typically, the police officer will write a ticket or citation, and you will be scheduled to appear before a magistrate, where you can either plead guilty or provide evidence in your defense. If convicted, you could face a fine of up to $300.

There are other potential consequences to a conviction for underage drinking, and there are also ways that you can minimize the consequences. If the charge is your first, the judge has the discretion to drop the charges against you in exchange for your willingness to complete a program of community service. Upon completion of the community service, the charges will be dismissed and a conviction will not appear on your criminal record. The citation will remain, however, unless you successfully expunge it.

If you plead guilty or are convicted of underage drinking, you will automatically lose your driving privileges for 90 days (for a first offense). Subsequent convictions for underage drinking can lead to fines of up to $500 and the suspension of your drivers license for up to two years.

Under Pennsylvania law, your auto insurance provider is not allowed to increase your auto insurance premiums because of a charge or conviction for underage drinking.

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