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Helping You with Underage Drinking Charges in Berks County

A law firm that can assist you if you’re facing an underage drinking charge

Nearly everyone in the United States knows that the drinking age is 21 — and the same is true of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you’re not 21 yet, drinking can cause a whole host of problems. David R. Eshelman, A Professional Corporation can provide the assistance you need when facing an underage drinking charge in Reading or elsewhere in Berks County.

Not just drinking — a prohibition on alcohol in general

Pennsylvania’s underage drinking statute prohibits more than just drinking a beer or having a rum and coke. If you’re not yet 21, you are not allowed to purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, possess or transport liquor or malt or brewed beverages.

I was at a party and the police gave me a citation. What next?

You’ve taken the first step by looking for a lawyer — and you know not to give any information to the police until you speak with an attorney like David R. Eshelman, who can help you determine your options, whether the police acted illegally, and whether the evidence is on your side.

Throughout Pennsylvania, underage drinking is a summary offense. Regardless of whether you took a drink, our firm always recommends that you plead not guilty to a charge of underage drinking, particularly with our team on your side. First, the penalties for underage drinking increase for subsequent convictions while you’re still a minor, as described below. Second, the district attorney often can’t prove any violation of the underage drinking statute beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, it is sometimes possible to change the charge to disorderly conduct, an alternative charge that does not result in a driver’s license suspension. Finally, although underage drinking convictions can be expunged when the convicted turns 21 years of age, working with an experienced attorney can often avoid charges in the first place.

Underage drinking versus disorderly conduct

Underage drinking is a more serious charge and has more substantial consequences, including:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days for a first offense, one year for the second, and two years for each subsequent conviction
  • Prohibition on applying for a learner’s permit if you don’t yet have a driver’s license
  • Hundreds of dollars in fines and costs charged by the Commonwealth
  • Up to 90 days in jail in extremely rare circumstances
  • Notification to your parents or guardians

On the other hand, if you obtain a disorderly conduct conviction, you receive no license suspension and lower fines. The court might also order alternative punishments for a first offense, such as community service, alcohol education or other reasonable measures. In any event, underage drinking can be expunged at 21, and disorderly conduct convictions can sometimes be expunged after five years.

Work with a Reading attorney fighting underage drinking charges

Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, David R. Eshelman, A Professional Corporation knows that college kids need help. We’ll help you fight a charge of underage drinking to save your license, your education and more. For more than 40 years, friends and neighbors have relied upon our vigorous representation and knowledge of the law, the Constitution and the courts to protect and guide you forward. Contact us today or call 877-442-9704 for your initial consultation.

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