Understanding Underage DUI in Pennsylvania

Many teens and young adults look forward to turning 21 so that they can start drinking alcohol. Some teens and adults who are under the age of 21 simply don’t wait and begin drinking while they are still too young. If you drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of your car, you may be charged with a DUI even if you are not impaired and even if your BAC is below the state’s legal limit for adults of 0.08%.
The DUI laws are harsher for minors in Pennsylvania because they are likelier to be involved in crashes than more experienced drivers. To prevent people who are younger than 21 from drunk driving in the state, the laws are stricter for this age group. DiCindio Law is experienced in handling underage DUI cases and can help you to understand what to expect. Here is an overview of how underage DUI cases are handled in Pennsylvania.

Lower BAC limit for younger drivers

For adults in the state of Pennsylvania, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08%. If you are younger than age 21, however, the legal limit is much lower. If you are younger than age 21, the legal limit at which you can be charged with a DUI is 0.02%. People who are younger than age 21 may be convicted of DUIs if they have any traceable amount of alcohol in their systems. This means that you could be convicted of a DUI even if you only had one drink if you are under age 21.

What are the penalties for an underage DUI?

The penalties for underage drinking and driving are harsher than they are for adults. Three main types of penalties exist for people who are convicted of underage DUIs, including time in jail, fines, and a suspension of driving privileges. If your BAC was 0.10% or higher, you could see substantial jail time depending on what number offense this is. If you are a repeat offender, you may spend time in jail while also losing your license for a long time.

Pennsylvania has a three-tier penalty system for DUI offenses that depends on the BAC levels of the people who are convicted. However, if you are underage, you will automatically face the penalties for a high BAC DUI even if you only had trace amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream. For a first offense, this means that you could have to pay a fine of $500 to $5,000 and could have your license suspended for a year.

If you are younger than age 18 when you are convicted of a DUI offense, your case will fall under the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act. You may be institutionalized, be forced to pay a fine, and be placed on probation. If you are 18 but younger than age 21, you may face the following penalties for a first-offense underage DUI:

  • Mandatory minimum jail time of 48 hours
  • Fine ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • Alcohol safety school
  • Other penalties such as treatment or community service

An underage DUI conviction also carries some collateral consequences beyond the legal penalties. If you have a criminal record, it could prevent you from obtaining some types of public and private scholarships. If you are already enrolled in and are attending college, your university may have its own disciplinary system for you, including a potential suspension from the college, being placed on probation at the college, or potentially being expelled.

Expungement of an underage DUI

For most people, a DUI cannot be expunged until they reach age 70 or have died. If you are granted entry into a diversionary court program for first offenders, you will be permitted to have your record expunged upon successful completion of the program. Expunging your underage DUI removes it from your criminal record. As soon as you have satisfied the conditions of the program, you are able to immediately petition the court for an expungement. This is important for you if you want to go to college and are getting ready to apply. Some colleges require that their students have clean criminal records before they are admitted and then to maintain clean records while they are attending. Expunging your DUI conviction can help you to gain admission into the college or university that you want to attend and to be eligible for more public and private scholarships.

Can an underage DUI case be won?

It is possible for you to win your underage DUI case at a trial, but it will depend on the facts of your case. An attorney may review what occurred and advise you on whether it makes sense to take it to trial.
A criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law may also be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges through a favorable plea agreement. If you are facing an underage DUI charge, it is important for you to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you just plead guilty. An attorney may be able to identify potential defenses that you could raise and help you to build a strong defense case. An attorney may also be able to secure a better plea bargain on your behalf by negotiating with the prosecuting attorney who is assigned to your case.

Getting an underage DUI charge can have long-lasting consequences. It is important for you to talk to an attorney at DiCindio Law if you are facing this charge or have already completed your sentence and want to get an expungement. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your case.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Underage Drinking Expungement

Underage Drinking Expungement

When someone has been convicted of an Underage Drinking offense it may have harmful consequences their future, their job prospects, their educational prospects and/or any licenses and certifications they may seek to obtain.

What many people do not know is that upon turning 21, if the sentence has been completed in full, including the license suspension, they are entitled to an expungement of the Underage Drinking conviction under Pennsylvania law.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Expungements are very commonly misunderstood. Many people believe that expungement’s are done immediately and automatically – they believe that as soon as the case is closed it is expunged. Instead, while they may be entitled or eligible for an expungement, a petition for expungement still must be filed.

Other people often mistakenly believe that upon turning 21 the case is immediately and automatically expunged – also not true.

Anyone who is now 21 has was charged and convicted with underage drinking offense is now entitled to an expungement in Pennsylvania if all conditions of their sentence/punishment have been fulfilled.

Contact DiCindio Law to begin the process of clearing your record today.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

PBT Tests – When can the results be used against you?

 

A “PBT test”, or preliminary breath test, is a device that allows an officer to test a person’s blood alcohol concentration without transporting them for a formal breath or blood test. These PBT’s are typically utilized by officers in DUI, drunk driving and underage drinking cases. While commonly used and accepted in practice, on scene by law enforcement officers, the results from these PBT devices have been found to be inadmissible in Court. There are certain limited times when they will be admissible – when specific requirements are met. (Which is not common) Also, they are permitted for certain pre-arrest investigative purposes.

west chester DUI lawyer

Contact West Chester DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case

In 2009 the Court in Commonwealth v. Brigidi made clear that the results of PBT tests may be admissible in certain cases (underage drinking matters). This was only if the results were obtained by a device that was approved and listed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Further, there was the added requirement of the device being calibrated and correctly checked for accuracy.

In the real world application, PBT tests are typically used for two major things. First, in underage drinking prosecutions, in order to determine if the person underage was consuming an alcoholic beverage. Second, in DUI and drunk driving cases when the officer administers a PBT at the scene of the vehicle stop in order to develop probable cause that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol. This would then be a factor in determining if the individual should be arrested and transported for a formal breath or blood test.

If you have been charged with DUI, drunk driving or underage drinking and a PBT was administered by the officers conducting the investigation, it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney examine the evidence and represent you in Court in order to protect against inadmissible evidence being used against you.

In West Chester and the Chester County area, law enforcement officers utilize PBT tests regularly. A skilled and knowledgeable Chester County DUI and criminal defense attorney should be contacted if you or a loved one is in this position.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to schedule your free initial consultation and go to the DUI and Underage Drinking sections of the DiCindio Law website to read more about these crimes.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.