The counties of Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Bucks are rife with college campuses as well as hundreds of public and private high schools. There are so many kids and young people, so many social situations, and, as we all know, sometimes there is alcohol present. It’s a fact of life that some kids drink and those that do would be well to be aware of the penalties that follow if they are caught buying, possessing, or consuming alcohol.
If a police officer charges a young person under the age of 21 with an alcohol related offense, he will issue that young person a yellow summons that will require them to respond to the District Court where the offense occurred. The ticket, a summary offense, will not create a criminal record if the minor pleads guilty or is found guilty of the offense. The minor need pay only a fine as punishment to the Court. The conviction may also be expunged later on. But if there is a conviction, that young person will also face the loss of their Pennsylvania driver’s license (if they are a Pennsylvania driver), or their Pennsylvania driving privileges (if they are an out of state driver), even if there was no motor vehicle involved. Get a load of the penalties: a first conviction carries a 90 day suspension; a second conviction carries a one year suspension; and a third or subsequent conviction mandates a two year suspension. If you believe it harsh, I agree.
Understanding Underage Drinking Laws
There is very often confusion and questions regarding these suspensions. Firstly, the Court does not actually order the suspension. The suspension is done by “administratively” by PennDot, who will send out a suspension notice to the young person once they are notified of the conviction. Only when the minor gets their mail a few weeks later will they discover they have been suspended. Secondly, the District Justice and/or the arresting officer very often do not advise the minor that a suspension will flow from the conviction since the Court is not the agency imposing it. Take all the above into account and you very often end up with a young man or woman that leaving the courthouse with a conviction that he or she has no idea will suspend their driver’s license or privilege.
“To be forewarned is to be forearmed” as they say. Understand the consequences. If you or your child receive a ticket pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308 (know the number), one would be well served to contact an underage drinking attorney so they may have their rights explained to them and to also decide the best course to taken in dealing with it. The right to drive a car, for many, is just too important to give up without a fight.