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Photo of Matt M. McClenahen

Underage Drinking Charges Common at Penn State Tailgates

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2013 | Underage Drinking

After the Nittany Lions’ opening game victory over old Eastern Independent rival Syracuse, we Penn Staters are optimistic about the season as we head into our first home game, Mark Emmert and his evil junta be damned. Unfortunately, not every Penn Stater is going to go home happy, even if we convincingly cover the 22.5 point spread against Eastern Michigan. It does not take a psychic to predict that a certain number of young people at the game Saturday are going to be charged with underage drinking pursuant to Section 6308 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

Part of my standard course of representation involves “preventative medicine.” When counseling young clients who have already been charged with a crime, I try to give them advice on how to avoid future run-ins with the law. One piece of advice I consistently give is to not drink at Beaver Stadium if you are underage.

No matter what the crime is, only a complete fool plans to commit the crime in question right in front of police officers. Even the most brazen students are not going to crack open a case of Natty Lite in the State College Municipal Building parking lot right behind the police station, yet it is pretty much equally ill-advised to do the same thing at a Penn State tailgate. The Beaver Stadium parking lots are crawling with cops from numerous jurisdictions, as well as agents from the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. If you look like you could be under 21 and are drinking, there is a good chance you will be carded by law enforcement. And if you are under 21, you will be charged with underage drinking.

Underage drinking penalties in Pennsylvania are among the harshest in the United States. A first offense underage drinking conviction carries a 90 day driver’s license suspension and a maximum fine of $500. A second conviction carries a one year driver’s license suspension and $1,000 maximum fine. A third or subsequent conviction carries a two year driver’s license suspension. All driver’s license suspensions are served consecutively. A judge also has the option of imposing a jail sentence of up to 90 days for even a first offense underage drinking conviction, but jail time is very rare for underage drinking charges here in Centre County.

If you have been charged with underage drinking, or any criminal offense for that matter, it behooves you to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. he is also a Penn State alumnus and die-hard Penn State fan.

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