Guest Post : Graduating This Year? Don’t Get Hit With A DUI

A Montgomery County, PA father decided to host a party for his underage daughter and her friends, thinking that they will be safe under his watchful eye.  However, when the party got out of hand and one of the minors became so intoxicated that he was vomiting on the front lawn, the police arrived, arrested the father and charged him with 43 counts of corruption of minors, 61 counts of selling/furnishing liquor to minors, and 1 count of recklessly endangering another person.  

Underage drinking is against the law and providing minors with alcohol carries with it serious criminal penalties.  In addition, a person furnishing minors with alcohol can also face civil liability if the minor gets hurt or hurts someone else.  Underage drinking never leads to anything positive and experienced DUI lawyers frequently explain that it can have serious legal implications for both the underage person and the one who provided them with alcohol.  With high school graduations coming up fast and summer break around the corner, parents and students alike should think twice before incorporating alcohol into their celebration.

Caught drinking underage at a graduation party?

While every state has its own laws regarding how underage drinking cases are handled, some being more severe than others, these are generally looked at seriously and have potentially long-lasting legal implications.  Furthermore, many states have a number of different criminal charges that you can be charged with for underage drinking, it’s not just a single “underage drinking” offense.  For example, in Pennsylvania, along with a charge for Underage Drinking, you may face additional charges of Misrepresentation of Age to Purchase Alcohol and/or Carrying a Fake ID.  All three of these charges carry hefty fines, potential jail time, and mandatory periods of driver’s license suspension.  

Aside from these charges and those similar in other states, virtually every state has specific carve-outs in the law for those under 21 who are caught for driving under the influence (DUI).  These charges may have different standards and penalties than standard DUI cases, specifically in that they may have a lower threshold for a conviction.  Again, for example, in Pennsylvania, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08%, however, for a minor this limit is significantly lower, at .02%.  These DUI charges have significant penalties, as well, including fines, costs, potential jail time, and license suspension periods.

What if adults provided you with alcohol?

As illustrated above, there are serious charges and penalties if parents or adults knowingly provide alcohol to minors.   The reality is that some parents remember the first time they drank, whether it was underage or not, and want to be able to provide their child a safe environment to experiment with alcohol.  DUI lawyers frequently hear the excuse that since many kids inevitably try drinking alcohol, some parents just think it’s a good idea that they do so under supervision.

However, selling/furnishing/providing alcohol to minors can carry significant penalties, no matter what state you are in.  Much like how there are a number of charges that a minor could be charged with for drinking underage, there are typically a number of charges for adults, as well.  If minors are seriously injured due to the alcohol provided by an adult, even more serious criminal charges can be filed.  Furthermore, parents or adults who provide alcohol to minors which in turn results in the death in the minor or someone else are also subject to civil liability under a negligence theory or a particular state’s Dram Shop Laws.  

Unlike the charges and penalties faced by minors for underage drinking, which may be eligible for “diversion” or probationary programs for first time offenders, the criminal charges and penalties faced by parents or adults in furnishing the alcohol are not.  They are serious charges, which tend to carry substantial fines and significant jail time.

About the author:

As part of the experience PA DUI lawyers at The Martin Law Firm, P.C., located in Blue Bell, PA. Alex Magid, Esquire provides legal representation in the areas of DUI and criminal defense as well as wills, trusts, and estates. Alex is a graduate of Penn State University, where he earned his degree in Crime, Law & Justice. To read more of Attorney Magid’s work, please visit www.jbmartinlaw.com/blog.

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