Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Laws
As soon as you saw the flashing red and blue lights in your mirror, you knew you were in trouble. Not only is it against the law to drink and drive in PA, so is drinking alcohol when you’re under 21. Now you’re accused of doing both. What kind of penalties you can expect to face if you’re convicted?
Any driver under the age of 21 who is arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania is automatically charged under the Second Tier High Impairment Rate. Even if this is your first offense, even if the amount of alcohol in your system is less than 0.10%, your punishment is probably going to be more severe than if you were old enough to drink alcohol in the first place.
How bad is what I am looking at?
First off, if you are Under Age, you most likely aren’t going to be eligible for a First Offender Program, even if you would otherwise qualify. The minimum penalties at the Second Tier Impairment tier include at least 2 days (and up to 6 months) in jail, a fine of at least $500 (possibly as much as $5000) and a suspended license for 12 months –you won’t be driving again for a year. And it gets worse. Drivers under 25 – even those with impeccable driving records – pay much more for automobile insurance than older drivers. Well, add a DUI conviction to your driving record and your rates will skyrocket – you will be placed into an ‘assigned risk’ program, f you can even get auto insurance at all. Lastly, your underage DUI conviction becomes part of your permanent, public criminal record – meaning it will be visible to potential landlords, employers, college admissions departments, and anyone who might want to run a background check on you. It can prevent you from getting a job, getting into college, and depending upon what major you wish to pursue, it can prevent you from even becoming licensed for certain careers. For example, an underage DUI or drinking conviction can and will prevent you from ever becoming a licensed nurse or teacher in PA. It will most likely negatively impact any chance you might have at a law enforcement career. And if you are thinking long-term about a career as a lawyer, it is probably not something you will want to have to disclose on your Bar application. And it will never, ever go away.
So what do I do now?
If you’ve been accused of DUI and you were Underage at the time, you are facing some very serious consequences if convicted. Now is the time to take action and do whatever you can to protect your future. You do that by hiring the best, most experienced DUI attorney you can find.
What about my parents?
In order to hire a lawyer, Pennsylvania requires the parties to sign what is called a “Fee Agreement.” A fee agreement is a contract, which is a legally binding document. If you are over 18, you are considered an adult in PA, and you don’t necessarily need to notify your parents in order to retain a lawyer (or sign any contract). Once you’ve retained your attorney, you are covered by the “attorney-client” privilege, and your attorney can’t even speak to your parents unless you authorize him to. However, if you are under 18, you’ll need a parent or guardian to sign your lawyer’s contract. Even if you are over 18, if you are not emancipated (or completely independent) from your parents, my advice would be to let them know what happened, no matter how hard it may be. Chances are they’ll be more than willing to help you avoid the consequences of DUI conviction and help you protect your future once they understand what you are facing.
If you’re looking for aggressive representation, contact Bompadre Law today and put one of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s most highly-trained attorneys in your corner. I FIGHT!
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