Underage drinking has always been with us and most people have participated in same. However, this is not an excuse. We always want our children to grow up better than we did and certainly if we can prevent underage drinking, we shall. However, if you child is in the wrong place at the wrong time such as being at a party or in a motor vehicle where there is alcohol – he or she will be charged with underage drinking. It is absolutely imperative that you have an aggressive defense to these charges.
For underage drinking there is a staggered suspension. If you’re under the age of 21 and you provide alcohol or you’re drinking under the age of 21, your first offense you will suffer a 90‑day license suspension. Your second offense will be six months and thereafter continues to increase to a maximum of two years.
Although underage drinking is a summary offense, it is known as a building offense. The first offense will result in significant fines and a license suspension. With a conviction of underage drinking the license suspension will start at 90 days and is ancillary to the underage drinking charge. In other words, PennDOT handles the license suspension. You do not wish to deal with PennDOT for any type of problem if you can avoid same.
- Possession, transportation and/or purchase of alcohol when under the age of 21
Penalties: Fines and license suspension up to two years
- Possession of a small amount of marijuana
Penalties: Fines, probation and license suspension
“I was at a party where there was drinking at West Chester University. The police came and arrested everyone. I received a letter from the University in my senior year that I was to be suspended from the school for one year! My family hired Mr. O’Meara and we went to trial and won. He told me it was a technicality only, but I do not care. I cleaned up my act and graduated from West Chester on schedule with no other problems.” – Pearl G.
A second, third or fourth offense for underage drinking carries with it additional fines as well as increasing license suspension up to a period of two years (this is why it is called a building offense).
You do not wish to wait and see what happens. This is your children’s future which can be negatively impacted by an underage drinking charge.
There are a number of different routes that can be taken to avoid a conviction and license suspension. Our offices always attempt to resolve any matter through this “grass roots” resolution method, if we can. Depending on the police and the District Court, there are programs which will resolve the matter at the District Court level.
Similarly suited is possession of a small amount of marijuana, or possession of drug paraphernalia. Many times these types of matters will be resolved at the District Court level. If you can do so, we must try that alternative because of the issues with a license suspension and significant fines.
Act quickly to protect your rights. If you or your child has been arrested for underage drinking or possession of a small amount of marijuana or paraphernalia you should contact Law Offices of Steven F. O’Meara, immediately. You may do so by phone at (610) 565‑9200 or email now.