Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Get Caught Underage Drinking at a Penn State Football Game

 I wrote this article a few years ago, but it is just as applicable today, and I felt that I should give it a few updates and re-post with Penn State's first home football game being this weekend.  The football tailgate and pre-gaming will involve plenty of alcohol being consumed, and much of that consumption will be by minors.  That means that Penn State students and other football fans will be facing Underage Drinking summary citations and misdemeanor Furnishing Alcohol to Minors charges.  I have been defense lawyer in State College since 2004, so I have represented thousands of Penn State students charged with criminal offenses and thereby know why many people get in trouble at tailgates at Beaver Stadium.  Below is a list of typical ways in which Penn State students and visitors have been caught over the years.
Public Urination– many Penn State tailgaters tire of the long lines at the porta-potties and go looking for trees, cars…..My personal favorite was someone that urinated next to a police car in which a uniformed officer was sitting
Push Over a Porta-Potty – either people were angry at waiting in line or simply thought that it was a good idea
Use “beer muscles” – pick a fight with a friend, another spectator, or the ticket attendant at the game that recommends that you head home before the police are summoned because you are too drunk to enter the stadium
Throw something at the Game –instead of watching the game, annoy other spectators by throwing things as them so they contact the police or security
Look and Act Guilty – When you see the uniformed officer walk by, immediately put down your beer and begin to walk away so that all the undercover officers know that you are underage and trying to avoid getting caught 

Penalties for Underage Drinking
      While Underage Drinking is only a summary offense, it actually carries substantial penalties, including a maximum fine of $500.00 and 90 day suspension of driving privileges for a first offense.  The fine for second offense convictions of Underage Drinking increase to $1,000.00.  The penalties increase for subsequent offenses, and the greatest penalties tend to be the license suspensions.  For a second offense, the suspension is 1 year, and third or subsequent offenses the suspension is 2 years.  It is also critical to note that only first-time Underage Drinking offenders are eligible to receive a “bread and butter” or Occupational Limited License.  Many Penn State graduates that receive multiple Underage citations during their years at Penn State graduate and enter the job market without the ability to drive.
Only a Fool Has Himself as Lawyer & Ignorance is NOT Bliss

            Generally speaking, you should not represent yourself.  Too many people claim that they cannot afford an attorney, so they contact the officer on their own, or go to court and admit everything to the judge with the hope of leniency.  Anything that you tell the officer or the judge can and will be used against you.  Also, many people mistakenly believe that the police must use 
breathalyzers in Underage Drinking cases.  To the contrary, breath tests are generally not admissible in Underage case IF the defense raises the appropriate objection at the right time.  If the defense does not object to evidence, such as the breath test or hearsay testimony, then the evidence is admitted into evidence and considered by the judge.  Another strategy to use in Underage cases is to seek suppression of evidence.  Again, the burden is on the defense to raise proper arguments to seek suppression, and, if the arguments are not made, the court can consider the evidence.  I have obtained favorable results for many clients charged with Underage Drinking.  

For more info about Underage Drinking, check out this FAQ page on my website.  If you have been charged with a criminal offense in State College, Lock Haven, or Altoona, contact my office for a FREE consultation. 

Jason S. Dunkle has been a State College criminal defense lawyer since 2004.  His law office, JD Law, P.C., is located in downtown State College, within walking distance of the University Park Campus of Penn State University.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI or other criminal offense, contact JD Law at (814) 954-1094 and schedule a FREE CONSULTATION.

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