Hosting Parties, Serving Alcohol to Minors and Refusing Chemical Tests

Alfonso Gambone
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A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer representing accused persons throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The holiday season is here and this is the second part of my two part article on criminal offenses during the holiday season.  Please check out part one here


3.  Hosting Parties where Alcohol is Served to Minors

Violations of the social host law are not only civil matters but also criminal as well. In Pennsylvania a person who furnishes alcohol to a minor commits a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree. A misdemeanor of the 3rd degree is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,500. The mandatory minimum fine in Pennsylvania is $1,000 in addition to a criminal record, which can negatively impact employment and other opportunities. In New Jersey, a person who commits this offense commits a disorderly person’s crime in the Garden State with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

4.  Refusing a Chemical Test (Blood or Breath) Following a Vehicle Stop

I’ve written a lot in 2017 on this topic and have even done videos on it as well. Refusing a chemical test will never improve a DUI/DWI in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The case of Birchfield v. North Dakota doesn’t change the constitutionality of a breath sample and only calls into question the blood draw. Even if a criminal court finds that blood is inadmissible during a prosecution, this Supreme Court decision does not affect a state’s ability to suspend a driver’s license under the civil sections of its DUI statute. Driving is a privilege and not a right and the results of a criminal prosecution are irrelevant.

If you’re stopped for suspicion of DUI/DWI I encourage you to cooperate with police, but don’t consent to the search of your person or car. Not consenting is within your constitutional right but refusing a breathalyzer or blood test is not protected under the Constitution. It is better for your attorney to argue over the admissibility of these results during motions to suppress evidence.

5.  Underage Drinking (Alcohol Possession and Consumption)

During the holiday break many high school and college age students have a considerable amount of time off from school and other activities. During this time many of these young men and women will come together socially at friends and family homes. In addition to these gatherings, a number will attempt to sneak into bars and other local establishments using fake ID’s.

The legal drinking age of 21 is common knowledge but most parents and minors don’t understand that underage drinking is also a criminal charge which can negatively impact their son or daughter’s professional academic life.

In Pennsylvania, a minor is guilty of a summary offense if he/she carries a fake ID or uses it to obtain access or any type of alcoholic beverage. Remember that the mere possession of a fake ID is a crime and the minor doesn’t have to actually use the fake ID to be charged or convicted of it under Section 6310.3 (Title 18 of Pennsylvania’s Crime Code). The first offense is a summary but any 2nd or 3rd violation is a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree, which is much more of a serious criminal charge and characterization. In addition to criminal penalties, a person who is convicted for underage drinking faces a mandatory minimum 90 day license suspension. While our firm has had great success in assisting young men and women with the Summary Diversion Program, this program is offered at the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office. In addition, any adult who furnishes or sells alcohol knowingly to a minor, commits a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree with a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine.

            Our firm wishes you and your family a great holiday season! For more information on how we can assist you, a friend, or family member, please contact our office and visit our free download section for more information.

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