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Laws Governing the Use of Alcohol

In the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Crime Code and the Pennsylvania Liquor Code govern the consumption, distribution and sale of alcohol. It is a summary offense for a person under 21 years of age to purchase, consume, possess or knowingly and intentionally transport any alcoholic beverages.

Penalty for a first offense is suspension of driving privileges for 90 days, a fine of up to $300.00 and imprisonment for up to 90 days; for a second offense, suspension of driving privileges for up to one year, a fine of up to $500.00, and imprisonment for up to one year. Multiple sentences involving suspension of driving privileges must be served consecutively.

It is a crime to intentionally and knowingly sell or intentionally and knowingly furnish any alcoholic beverage to a minor (under 21). "Furnish" means to supply, give or provide to, or to allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person. It is a crime for any person under 21 years of age to possess an identification card falsely identifying that person as being 21 years of age or older, or to obtain or attempt to obtain alcoholic beverages by using a false identification card or otherwise misrepresent one's age in an attempt to obtain alcoholic beverages. Penalties are as stated in (1) above.

It is a crime to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly manufacture, make, alter, sell or attempt to sell an identification card falsely representing the identity, birth date or age of another. The minimum fine is $1000.00 for first violation; $2500.00 for subsequent violations; imprisonment for up to two years for any violation. It is a crime to hire, request or induce any minor to purchase alcoholic beverages or to misrepresent that another is of legal age in order to obtain alcoholic beverages. The penalty is a minimum fine of $300.00 and imprisonment for up to one year.

It is a crime to drive or operate any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance or drug. It is also a crime to drive or operate a vehicle where the amount of alcohol by weight in the blood of the person equals or exceeds 0.08%. Penalties for violation include a minimum fine of $300.00; loss or suspension of driver's license; participation in and completion of a counseling or treatment program; and imprisonment from 48 hours to not less than one year, depending on the nature and number of prior violations.

It is a crime to sell, furnish or serve alcohol to any person who is visibly intoxicated. The City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibit the consumption or distribution of alcohol in any public place without a proper license or permit and prohibit public drunkenness. Sales without a license or purchases of alcoholic beverages from an unlicensed source are prohibited.

It is unlawful to possess or transport liquor or alcohol within the Commonwealth unless it has been purchased from a State Store or in accordance with Liquor Control Board regulations.