Going off to college is often a freeing time in life. Moving away from home for the first time provides you with the opportunity for new experiences, new friends and new social situations. You may attend parties and have a few drinks. This wouldn't present a problem unless you are under the age of 21.
The state of Pennsylvania and Penn State take underage drinking seriously. You may want to think twice before getting into your car after having a few drinks. The state has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Adults over the age of 21 have some chance of not suffering any consequences if their blood alcohol concentration remains below .08, but you don't have the same chance.
What does zero tolerance mean?
If police stop you and you have any trace of alcohol in your system, you could face charges for DUI, for possessing alcohol and/or for having a BAC of .02 or above. This is because a large number of teenagers lose their lives on motor vehicle accidents. A disproportionate amount of those teens had alcohol in their systems. When you combine alcohol with your relative inexperience in driving, it makes for a dangerous cocktail.
It doesn't end with drinking and driving
Drinking under the age of 21 could land you in trouble with the law under other circumstances such as the following, as well:
- If you lie about your age
- If you represent that another person is age 21 or older
- If you appear drunk in public
- If you possess a false ID
- If you make a false ID
Even if the charges you face are misdemeanors, they could still have an adverse effect on your college career and possibly any future career you envision. In addition, you could end up paying fines or even spending time in jail.
You may need experienced help
Everyone makes mistakes. The question is whether those mistakes should haunt you for the rest of your life. If you end up in trouble with the law for alcohol-related offenses, knowing your legal options and understanding your rights could help you find the best possible outcome to your situation. This may require making use of the legal resources available here in State College to get your future back on track.