When a kid is convicted of underage drinking, PennDot will suspend that young person's driving privileges in Pa. First offense: 90 days; Second Offense: 1 year; Third and Subsequent Offenses: 2 years. Additionally, a conviction for underage drinking is a blemish on a person's record that they may be asked about on job interviews and school applications. So, given the aforementioned, it just doesn't make sense to just throw in the towel and admit guilt. Take a shot - there's nothing to lose.
If one asks for a trial they could always receive the nice surprise of the cop that doesn't show up for the hearing, the cop who takes pity on the young person and cuts them a break, or the good work of an attorney hired to represent that person who can make the charge go away.
Always ask for a hearing: You have nothing to lose.
DON'T Join Just Any Diversionary Program.
In Pennsylvania, some District Courts will allow the defendant to enter into a "diversionary program" for the purpose of having the young person attend alcohol awareness programs and/or perform community service. This is done in exchange for the dismissal of the underage charge or a reduction of it to a lesser charge. BEWARE. The Commonwealth of Pa. sanctioned program allows for a dismissal of an underage as a criminal charge but still allows the case to go through as a conviction for PennDot purposes. Thus, the case may be dismissed, but PennDot will still suspend the license. Many district courts have now gotten away from the Pa. program and have adopted their own programs and they are all just a little bit different. If a young person chooses to dispose of the case in this way, make sure the program does not include a PennDot suspension.
DO Hire an Experienced PA Underage Drinking Lawyer
Their are lawyers in Pennsylvania who, through their years of practice in the area of underage drinking, can almost assure you of a disposition that does not involve an underage drinking conviction. Years of experience in the various district courts have familiarized them with the judges and the police and have taught them the different ways in which they may benefit their clients with a non-underage drinking disposition. Look for them - and hire them if you are serious about mounting your best defense.