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Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol and Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law protect students from prosecution for consumption or possession of alcohol or drugs when they seek help for a peer.
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Understanding Alcohol Violations On and Off Campus

If you are involved with an alleged alcohol-related violation, you potentially face sanctions by the University as well as criminal charges by local authorities. These are separate and distinct processes and you will likely have to respond to both the University’s Conduct Process as well as the Criminal Process for the same event. 

The Student Code of Conduct applies on AND off campus

The Student Code of Conduct applies to conduct that occurs on and off campus, including activities on University premises; at University-sponsored activities; at functions, activities, or events hosted by recognized student organizations, and other off-campus locations when the behavior affects a substantial University interest. 

First Violation

If you accept or are found responsible for a first-time violation for underage consumption or possession, you will receive, at a minimum, a conduct warning through the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response. You will also be required by Penn State to attend the BASICS program which has a $250 fee. The local magistrate may also require you to complete a Youthful Offenders Program. In State College, the fee for the Youthful Offenders Program is $250

If you accept or are found responsible for a first-time violation for excessive consumption or driving while impaired, at a minimum, you will be placed on conduct probation by the University. You will also be required by Penn State to attend the BASICS program which has a $250 fee. A letter will also be sent home as part of our parental notification policy for any alcohol or drug violation.

Avoid getting an alcohol violation

  • Don’t carry an open container of alcohol.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself (for example, by being loud or by urinating outside).
  • Don’t be visibly drunk in any public place, on or off campus. This includes tailgate areas. This is a violation, regardless of age.
  • Don’t walk home alone. Have a friend with you or use Penn State’s SAFE WALK, 814-865-WALK (9255).
  • Don’t drink if you are under 21

Alcohol and Residence Halls

The on-campus alcohol policy

The possession or use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in ALL Penn State on-campus undergraduate residence hall buildings, including White Course Apartments, Nittany Apartments, and Eastview Terrace. This policy applies to all students and GUESTS regardless of whether they are 21 years of age.

  • Residents and guests are also prohibited from being in the presence of alcohol in the residence halls.
  • The host of a gathering in the residence halls may be subject to additional charges such as party responsibility and/or distribution of alcohol.
Living smart in the Residence Halls
  • Limit the number of visitors in your room.
  • Make sure you know your visitors and they know the rules.
  • Keep the volume down, including music, video games, and voices.
  • Don’t keep alcohol bottles or drug paraphernalia in your room.
  • Make a plan with your roommate not to have alcohol in your room and stick to it.

 If a Resident Assistant (RA) Knocks on Your Door

  • Open the door without delay. A delay suggests you might be hiding something.
  • Stay calm and be polite.
  • Provide correct identification.
  • Do not leave the area until the RA says it’s OK to leave.

If you fail to do these things, the police may be called.

 Fact: It is a violation of the code of conduct to consume, possess, or be in the presence of alcohol in your residence hall room.

Alcohol Laws in Pennsylvania

Furnishing alcohol to minors

It is illegal to knowingly sell or furnish, or purchase with the intent to sell or furnish, any liquor malt or brewed beverage to a person who is less than 21 years of age. You can be convicted of furnishing alcohol even if you are under age 21. The fine for a first offense is at least $1,000 and a second or subsequent offense is $2,500. Jail is up to one year for an offense. This offense may result in a permanent criminal record.

Underage drinking

It is illegal to consume an alcoholic beverage if you are under 21. It is also illegal for anyone under 21 years or age to attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or knowingly and intentionally transport any liquor, malt, or brewed beverage. Penalties may include:

Offense Fine Jail
1st Offense 0 - $500 0 - 90 Days
2nd Offense 0 - $1,000 0 - 90 Days
Subsequent Offense 0 - $1,000 0 - 90 Days

Police are required by law to notify parents or guardians of all underage drinking violations.

Carrying False I.D.

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to possess an ID card that falsely identifies the person by name, age, date of birth, or photograph as being 21 or older. If the ID is a fake driver’s license more serious penalties may apply.

Offense Fine Jail
1st Offense 0 - $300 0 - 90 Days
2nd Offense 0 - $500 0 - 1 Year
Subsequent Offense 0 - $500 0 - 1 Year
Public drunkenness

It is illegal to be in any public place under the influence of alcohol to the degree that you may endanger yourself or other persons or property, or annoy others in your vicinity.

Offense Fine Jail
1st Offense 0 - $500 0 - 90 Days
2nd Offense 0 - $1,000 0 - 90 Days
Subsequent Offense 0 - $1,000 0 - 90 Days

FACT: The underage drinking law includes possessing and transporting alcohol - not just consumption. Remember, it’s illegal to drink if you’re under 21.

Driving under the influence

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher. It is illegal for anyone 21 and older to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. If you have a first-time violation, under certain circumstances, you may qualify for an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. 

If you are convicted of a DUI when under 21 and have a blood alcohol content below .16, penalties may include:

Penalty* 1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Fine $500 - $5,000 $750 - $5,000 $1,500 - $10,000
Jail 48 hours - 6 months 30 days - 6 months 90 days - 5 years
License Suspension 1 year 1 year 1 year
Other

Alcohol Highway Safety School

Court Reporting Network File

Alcohol Highway Safety School

Court Reporting Network File

Drug & Alcohol Evaluation

Court Reporting Network File

*Penalties differ based on age, blood alcohol content, and other factors.

Tips for interacting with a police officer
  • Stay calm and be polite.
  • Provide your correct identification, if asked.
  • Do not run from or fight with the officer.
  • Ask if you are free to leave.

Failing to provide ID, running, fighting, arguing, or trying to avoid answering your door will likely result in more serious charges. Following these tips will minimize negative outcomes.

State College Ordinances

Public urination and defecation ordinance

It is illegal to urinate or defecate in/on a public area, on private property where the public is admitted, or on private property without the consent of the owner. It is illegal to urinate or defecate in any public place other than in an appropriate sanitary facility. Fines include $750 for the first offense and $1,000 for any subsequent offense plus court costs for each violation.

Open container ordinance

It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in any public area (i.e., parking lot, parking garage, public street, sidewalk, alley, or park) in State College. Fines include $250 for the first offense; $500 for the second offense, and not less than $1,000 for any subsequent offenses in any 120-day period, plus court costs or 30 days in prison if fines and costs are not paid.

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Alcohol Violations On and Off Campus