Written by attorney Jeffrey B. Engle

Underage Drinking on College Campuses- Rite of Passage or Serious Offense?

An underage drinking offense can have monumental impact on a young person's life

Most college students that I advise, think little if anything about an "Underage Drinking", 18 Pa.C.S. Section 6308, conviction. It's a rite of passage. Just something that happens in college. It should not be taken that lightly.

An Underage Drinking conviction results in a 90 suspension of your driver's license. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, it will cost you another year. A conviction may increase your auto insurance premiums. Explain that to mom or dad when they go to renew their family auto plan.

Something that escapes most college students is that these convictions are completely avoidable. Just because you had a beer at a party and your breath smells like alcohol, does not mean a cop stopping you on the street has enough evidence to convict you of Underage Drinking. Here's the truth about the evidence the police need from some real cases we've handled.

In a prosecution for underage drinking, the evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant had consumed a malt or brewed beverage within the meaning of the statute:

• where the defendant was intoxicated and it could, therefore, be inferred that she drank a beverage that was more than half of 1% alcohol

• where the Commonwealth established that there was alcohol in sufficient quantity to intoxicate the defendant and, therefore, through logical inference, that the beverage contained at least 0.5% alcohol by volume where the Commonwealth's witnesses testified that the defendant was intoxicated

• even though the arresting officer did not see the defendant actually consume, possess or transport alcohol where the officer detected an odor of alcohol on the defendant and a breathalyzer test yielded a result of .04% alcohol

Some things to keep in mind when confronted by police. Don't talk too much. If you're "buzzed," you're drunk. If you're drunk, chances are you are making no sense. The police are not your friends in this situation. Be polite, be respectful and shut up. Don't admit to anything. Most police don't have any evidence of actual intoxication coming into court other than the defendant's own words or about what they admitted to drinking.

If you are charged with an Underage Drinking Offense, it is essential to contact an experienced attorney. You may call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today for a free telephone consultation.

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