Recently, the national news picked up a story about a Colorado state senator that introduced a bill affectionately known as the “Drinking with Dad” bill. This piece of legislation would have permitted parents to purchase alcohol for their child in Colorado Bars and restaurants if the child was 18 and older but not yet 21 (legal underage drinking). The senator who introduced the bill advocated the measure because he felt that permitting children to drink alcohol with a parent present would provide an opportunity to teach them how to drink responsibly.
Although a similar law currently exists in Wisconsin, the Colorado bill was eventually defeated in committee and 18 to 21 year old Coloradians will have to continue drinking in basements and carrying fake ID’s for the foreseeable future. Although underage drinking is a crime in every state in the country, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. There are seven other conditions under which alcohol consumption is legal by persons under the age of 21: (1) on a private, non-alcohol selling premises with parental consent (home), (2) on a private, non-alcohol selling premises without parental consent (private club), (3) for religious purposes, (4) for medical purposes, (5) for educational purposes, (6) for governmental purposes, and (7) for good Samaritan purposes (reporting alcohol related medical emergencies of others).
For those of us here in Pennsylvania, the important question remains, which of the above exceptions applies in our state? The answer is none. Pennsylvania is one of only 8 “prohibition states,” meaning that there are no exceptions to the underage drinking law. The only circumstance in which a person between the age 18 and 21 can even possess alcohol in Pennsylvania is when selling it. Therefore, although some of the underage drinking laws are softening around the country, there has been little to no movement here in Pennsylvania.
If you need legal advice regarding underage drinking, DUI or other alcohol related issues, contact my Pittsburgh law firm, Gusty A. E. Sunseri & Associates, for help.