Although the legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21-years-old, underage college students sometimes partake in alcoholic drinks. Many view this as just a part of growing up and the college experience. However, underage drinking is considered a serious offense in the state, and thus people could face significant penalties if convicted of this offense.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, those under the legal drinking age are prohibited from drinking, possessing or transporting alcohol under the state’s Zero Tolerance law. The minimum penalties for underage drinking or possession of alcohol include a fine of no more than $500, plus the costs of any court fees. Additionally, those convicted of this offense are subject to a 90-day suspension of their driver’s licenses. It is also illegal for youths to carry fake identification cards or to lie about their age for the purposes of getting alcohol.
According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, underage drinkers may be charged with DUI if they are found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. If convicted, they face the same penalties as adults. For a first-time offense, this includes a maximum fine of $5,000, a mandatory minimum prison term of 48- or 72-hours, and mandatory participation in a highway safety school program. These penalties may be in addition to any levied for underage drinking or alcohol possession or fake ID convictions. Those under the age of 18-years-old who are convicted of DUI are processed through juvenile courts, as opposed to through the criminal justice system. Therefore, the penalties they may face if found guilty of underage drinking and driving may differ from those over the age of 18-years-old.