Underage Drinking - The Basics

  • Anyone less than 21 years of age who is caught drinking or possession of alcoholic beverages is guilty of a Summary offense in violation of 18 Pa C.S.A. § 6308(a).
  • A "Summary" offense is the least serious criminal offense (compared to misdemeanors and felonies) and generally means that someone pays a fine (maximum is $300) if the police prove that you are guilty before a local magistrate.
  • For most cases, the police officer will issue a citation (like a traffic ticket) and you will be notified when to appear before a magistrate for a Summary Trial of your case.

CLICK HERE for a Message to Parents of Students Charged with Underage Drinking

Penalties for Underage Drinking- First Offense

  • If this the first underage drinking offense, the magistrate may (although the magistrate is not required to most magistrates will) admit you into a program to do community service in return for dropping the charges against you.
  • You are not required to plead guilty to be admitted to the community service program. (These programs are referred to as "alternative pre-adjudication dispositions" which you can find at Title 42 Pa. C.S.A § 1520. (Volume 42 PA Consolidated Statutes Annotated) § (section) 1520)
  • So, if you complete the program successfully, you will not have a criminal conviction on your record.
  • However, there will be a record of the citation. Because you were not found guilty, the record of the citation can be removed or "expunged".
  • A lawyer can have the citation expunged, or you can get the instructions from the magistrate and do it yourself. The papers must be filed with the Clerk of Courts of the Court of Common Pleas in your County. There is a $100 fee to file the Petition for Expungement in Allegheny County. A Pa State Police Criminal Record Report, which costs $10, must be included.
  • Your Driver's License will be Suspended for 90 Days if you plead guilty or are convicted (First Offense).
  • Will My License Be Suspended If the Magistrate Accepts Me Into An Alternative Pre-Adjudication Disposition Program?"
    • Your driver's license is supposed to be suspended for 90 days according to the statute. HOWEVER..... some Magistrates do NOT send any information about you to the PA Dept of Transportation unless you are convicted --- and acceptance into an "alternative pre-adjudication dispositions" program is not, legally, a conviction.

What If I Have A Second Offense of Underage Drinking?

  • Remember, acceptance into a alternative pre-adjudication disposition program will count as a first offense if you are charged again.
  • You can be fined up to $500 for convicted of an offense after the 1st offense.
  • Driver's license suspension for 1 year if convicted 2nd offense.
  • Drivers license suspension for 2 years if convicted of a 3rd offense.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

  • The law says No, but you would have to prove that the insurance rate increase was caused by the suspension of your driver's license. So, it's illegal but an insurance company could try to come up with some other reason why your rates went.

Million Dollar Advocates Forum Graduate of Trial Lawyers College | Thunderhead Ranch ASLA | The American Society Of Legal Advocates


Attorney Michael J. Lorence practices employment law and assists underage drivers charged with DUI in Pennsylvania cities such as Pittsburgh, Aliquippa, Carrick, Bridgeville, Gibsonia, Robinson Twp, Meadville, McKeesport, Monroeville, Wexford, Oakland, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Baldwin, Washington, New Castle, Warren, Waynesburg, and counties that include Allegheny County, Washington County, Beaver County, Westmoreland County, Fayette County, Armstrong County, Butler County, Greene County, Lawrence County, Venango County, and Erie County.