Everyone knows that the legal age to drink in Pennsylvania is 21. This means it is illegal for anyone under that age to consume, purchase, transport, or possess liquor, brewed, or malt beverages.

Underage drinking laws may seem simple at first glance, but the reality is anything but. Below we’ve compiled the most common questions regarding underage drinking, and our answers here may help guide your next steps.

What are the penalties for underage drinking?

Penalties can include mandatory fines, jail time, probation, in-home detention, and can also increase with each subsequent conviction.

For a first-time conviction, you can face the following penalties:

  • Fines up to $500
  • Up to 90 days in jail

A second, third, or subsequent conviction, can result in the following penalties:

  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Up to 90 days in jail

On October 24, 2018, a bill was signed which eliminated and repealed the mandatory license suspension associated with Underage Drinking.

If I did not get a blood or breath test can I still face underage drinking charges?

Many people wrongly assume that there needs to be direct evidence (blood or breath test) of alcohol consumption to issue an underage drinking citation. Yet, while this evidence is preferred, the judge can still find an individual guilty based solely on circumstantial evidence, including the odor of alcohol on a person’s breath, slurred speech, glassy eyes, bloodshot eyes, swaying, torn clothing, and difficulty standing.

Can convictions, suspensions, and guilty pleas for underage drinking be expunged?

Charges for Underage Drinking can still appear on background search reports. However, there is still good news: convictions of Underage Drinking may be eligible for expungement after you turn 21 and have completed the sentence.

What else should I know?

When it comes to a criminal charge, nothing is simple or straightforward. No answer is set in stone, either. To get the right answers, for your situation, reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.