Q: If a 17-year-old with no license receives an underage drinking citation with an immediate loss of license for 3 months, but doesn’t get his license until he is 25, is the citation still valid?
A: Assuming you pleaded guilty or were found guilty of the underage drinking offense, the correlating driver’s license suspension from PennDOT does not take effect until the person gets a driver’s license, if they had none at the time of the offense. PennDOT doesn’t forget.
Q: I was at a party and some people were being quite loud and campus police were checking in and had eventually entered the home. They shut down what was going on and lined everyone up before exiting the home warning people not to flee out of the rear of the house. Checking people’s bags for alcohol in which they had to throw out if they did possess it and asking them for ID which they verbalized names over a body cam. Now, if no one was arrested could there still be future ramifications? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: For summary offenses, citations can be issued at the scene, or by mail. The police can also charge misdemeanors without physically arresting someone. They can take the information and mail a summons to the person. You will likely receive a citation in the mail and a hearing date. Do not plead guilty. Underage drinking under section 6308 of the PA Crimes Code is a summary offense, which if you are convicted of, will stay on your record for 5 years before you can pay to have it expunged. Additionally, it carries a driver’s license suspension which will come in the mail from PennDOT, weeks later. Many District Justices offer a first-time offender’s program which will allow you to avoid a conviction, but it is not always offered unfortunately. Make sure the address the police have is a good one. If you do not receive mail at the address you gave them, miss the hearing and are convicted, you are out of luck. Hire an attorney if you can.
Q: My son pleaded guilty to underage drinking on a college campus in Ohio Labor Day weekend of 2017. He did the diversion program to completion and submitted paperwork for expungement. It is currently dismissed and should be complete by June 1. Unfortunately, he ran into trouble visiting friends in PA this spring and was cited by a campus police officer for underage drinking. Does he have to disclose his expungement in OH to a judge if asked? Will it be considered a second offense if it happened in a different state? Or considered first offense in PA? the officer told me he would only be asking the judge for community service time at the time of his hearing. Should we ask for a continuance until after the Ohio expungement is finalized before having the hearing in PA with the campus officer? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If the prior case happened in PA, the police on the new case would be able to see he had a prior citation for a 6308 offense. Therefore, he would not be eligible for a second chance at a diversion. You would think that police could not find the first case, because it was expunged, but District Attorneys seems to be able to access cases that are expunged. Whether the PA police will be able to see the prior Ohio citation, I am not certain. Your son has no obligation to offer the fact that he does have a prior. Only if he is sworn in to testify and is under oath and asked by the District Justice here in PA, would have to tell the truth. At his new hearing, let the officer tell you if a diversionary program is on the table, and if it is, jump on it.
Q: My 17-year-old daughter was cited tonight for underage drinking at a house party. The cop said she wasn’t drinking. She will lose her license and be fined. Do we have recourse?
A: I believe the statute (6308) applies to possessing, transporting or consuming. If she did any one of those she can be cited. Many times, officers cite all the kids at a party, even when they don’t have evidence against all of them. If the officer will state the she didn’t drink, possess or transport the alcoholic beverages, he may withdraw the citation. She may have a defense if he does not. Whatever you do, do not have her plead guilty. As you already know, being found guilty of this summary non-traffic offense will result in a driver’s license suspension and will remain on her record for five years before she can expunge it. If she has no defense, there is a program (if offered) for first time underage drinking offenders that will involve the charges being withdraw. (Munhall, PA)