It is the most wonderful time of the year! Students are back, the air is getting cooler, and the town sheds its sleepy summer skin. In the midst of all this excitement, we are here to remind new and returning students to have fun (but not too much fun).
Keep in mind these potential legal risks for partying while you are venturing out to parties and bars for the first time this semester. Enjoy yourselves, but remember to be safe and responsible!
Many college students may think that if they drink in their rooms or at parties within walking distance from their dorms, they are safe from being charged with alcohol-related crimes because they are not driving. While it's true that drunk driving is one of the biggest alcohol-related crimes a person can be charged with, it's certainly not the only one. Many people overlook other criminal activities that could have serious consequences for their futures.
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 who is caught drinking even the day before their 21st birthday can be charged with a variety of alcohol-related crimes. You should also be aware that the penalties for these crimes may increase in severity due to the drinker's age. College students typically come to campus when they're approximately 18 and 19 years old and they cannot drink legally until their junior and senior years in most cases.
Underage students cannot get into bars and they can't buy liquor and beer from the store, but this does not mean that they don't have ways to get liquor on campus. Frat parties and social events provide easy access to booze and in some cases, students can even drink for free or very cheaply. Most parties don't do ID checks, and if they do, students have ways around those checks.
Other students may have fake IDs to get into bars and buy liquor. Fake IDs can lead to underage drinking charges (if the owner is caught providing alcohol to the underage individual), as well as falsification of documents, which could lead to its own set of penalties and repercussions.
Providing Alcohol to Minors
On the flip side of underage drinking is being of age and giving minors access to liquor. This could be anything from throwing a party at your home and being unaware that an underage person is there and drinking, to buying beer for your younger friends. Anyone over the age of 21 who is caught giving or providing alcohol to a younger person can be charged with criminal activity and may be held partially or fully responsible for the actions of an intoxicated minor.
If you are over 21 and decide to have a few drinks at the bar and walk yourself home, your decision to walk will prevent you from getting a DUI charge. However, walking home has its own risks for criminal activity, as public intoxication or drunkenness can be criminally prosecuted. Depending on what you do, you could face fines and citations for your actions while you're intoxicated, even if you're only putting yourself at risk. We often think that alcohol-related crimes are only criminal actions if someone is in danger (i.e., yourself and others when you drive drunk), but there are a variety of actions that are considered criminal.
We hope you have a great semester!
Do a lot of good work, have a lot of fun. Be safe, be responsible, and remember:
At Rehmeyer & Allat, Attorneys at Law, we represent college students and State College residents who have been charged with public intoxication, underage drinking, furnishing alcohol to minors and other alcohol-related crimes, including drunk driving. For more information on Pennsylvania's laws and criminal prosecution for drinking and alcohol crimes, contact the State College DUI attorneys at our firm today.