When you first go to college, you get to experience a whole new freedom in your social life. You will decide how late to stay up, who to hang out with, where to go and what you will do. Like many students, you may choose to include alcohol in your activities.

However, if you are under 21, you may find yourself facing charges for underage drinking. As a student, a criminal charge can affect your life in more ways than one. As an adult, you will deal with much stiffer penalties than you would have in high school as a minor.

Criminal consequences of underage drinking

Pennsylvania law strictly prohibits anyone under 21 from drinking alcohol. Students can receive a citation and a fine up to $500 for the first time. A second conviction can mean a fine up to $1,000. The state would also revoke your driver’s license for 90 days.

These penalties can be expensive and prevent you from being able to drive. If you need to commute to work, you must rely on your friends or public transportation. Your citation will go on your criminal record. After college, if an employer pulls your background during the interview process, the conviction could affect your ability to get a job.

Colleges have their own punishments

Like most colleges, Indiana University of Pennsylvania also takes underage drinking seriously. The college does not allow alcohol on any public areas of the campus. If the school catches anyone under 21 with liquor or beer, they call the police, resulting in a citation. Underage students that receive a conviction must also take alcohol education classes at the college to stay enrolled.

Underage drinking can affect your future

Part of your college experience may include socializing and having fun. But if you choose to drink underage, you will want to understand the impact it could have on your future before pouring yourself a glass.