When a client comes to me with a child that was caught and cited with underage drinking, that child often possessed a fake ID when he or she was arrested or cited. Regardless of whether or not the minor used the ID to purchase alcohol, it is illegal in the Commonwealth to possess an identification card that falsely identifies that person by name, age, date of birth, or photograph as being 21 years of age or older. Therefore, even if a minor simply has the fake ID and hasn't used it, he or she cnuld be found guilty of a crime.
Each year, my firm handles a number of underage drinking cases. Most cases are fairly straightforward and a minor simply got caught at a party or had too much to drink. However, the case gets significantly more complicated if the minor possesses a fake ID. The consequences for possessing false identification and using it to purchase alcohol make a case more complicated than one in which the minor simply gets caught drinking alcohol underage.
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.
As of December 24, 2012, the penalties for underage drinking and public drunkenness in Pennsylvania will increase significantly. On October 25, 2012, Governor Corbett signed into law Act No. 205, increasing the fines for the above offenses. Prior to the Governor signing the Act, if you were convicted of underage drinking in a Pennsylvania Magisterial District Court, you were subject to a $300 fine, responsible for paying court costs and suffered a 90 day driver's license suspension. If you were convicted for a second or subsequent time, the fine would increase to $500 and the license suspension was raised to a full year.
We have all done stupid things when we were young. Some have had to pay more than others because they were the unlucky ones-they got caught. Needless to say-drinking alcohol when under age is one of the more stupid things a youth can do. But, the fact remains, close to 50% of the young populous have admitted to drinking before the legal age.
School has just let out and it's graduation party season. Kids will be celebrating their accomplishments and parents will be hosting big celebrations in their child's honor. So what happens when the kids get a little out of hand and have some drinks at the party you're hosting? If minors get caught for underage drinking, they are subject to Pennsylvania's underage drinking laws. For a first offense, the minor could be subject to a fine up to $300, up to 90 days in jail and a 90 day suspension of his/her driver's license.
It is high school graduation time and parents are faced with the dilemma of whether to have a graduation party for their graduate in which alcohol will be present. Some parents try to rationalize and find ways to provide alcohol to the kids as a way for the youths to participate in the festivities.