Pennsylvania law prohibits anyone under age 21 to possess alcohol. This is usually called "underage drinking" but you don't have to drink it to be charged with a violation. If you have unopened cans or bottles in your car or if you're just holding a cup of beer for an adult friend, that's possession and you can be charged. You will be fined and have to pay court costs license suspended for at least 90 days (first offense) if you are caught. Additionally, you will have a court record for an alcohol related violation.
If you are 21+ and give someone under 21 alcohol you can be charged with corruption of minors, a first degree misdemeanor. That's one step away from a felony and a conviction will give you a permanent criminal record in addition to your sentence. In Pennsylvania misdemeanor convictions cannot be expunged until you reach age 70 or you are dead.
Even if you aren't charged with possession of alcohol you can be charged with public drunkenness if you are under the influence of alcohol in a public place. You can be fined and jailed. There will be an unofficial record of your violation which can prove embarrassing when found by prospective employers or others researching your background.
If you are under 21 then the legal limit for blood alcohol content when you drive is .02 - virtually any amount of alcohol will put you over. For under 21 DUI the criminal penalties and other consequences are severe, not to mention the risk of hurting yourself or others. Jail and large fines, a lengthy license suspension with no work or school license option, cancellation of insurance, etc. You may also be charged with underage possession in addition to DUI.
You should avoid doing anything or being anywhere that puts you at risk of committing these offenses or being associated with those who do. Police will often issue mass or group citations at parties or other gatherings where they find one or more offenders. They won't bother to investigate each person's case. If you do find yourself accused of violating the law DO NOT MAKE ANY STATEMENTS, WRITTEN OR VERBAL, TO THE POLICE. They mean it when they say "anything you say will be used against you." Don't argue or resist arrest. Be respectful even if you think you're being mistreated, but make mental notes of what's happening and any witnesses present. Contact Kalasnik Law Office, LLC for legal advice as soon as possible: www.KalasnikLawOffice.com
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