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Q

I am 17 and live in Pennsylvania. Recently I received a 90-day license suspension due to underage drinking. Will this cause an increase in my insurance rates or cause points to be added to my license? My insurance company hasn't notified me of any increase in rates or cancellation of policy.


A

To find out if a license suspension caused by a non-driving (non-moving) violation such as underage drinking will add points to your license; you will need to check with the Pennsylvania Driver and Vehicles Services portion of PennDOT. We did not see points assigned to this offense but check with PennDOT to find out for certain.

The Pennsylvania Driver's Manual makes it clear that it is against the law for anyone under age 21 to consume, possess or transport alcohol. The manual notes that a motor vehicle does not have to be involved for you to lose your driving privileges if you are cited for underage drinking in PA.

Be aware that your driving privilege will be suspended if you are under 21 years of age and are convicted of lying about your age to obtain alcohol, carrying a false identification card, or purchasing, consuming, possessing or transporting alcohol. At a minimum, a 90-day suspension for the first offense, a one (1) year suspension for the second offense, and a two (2) year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses will be imposed. You will also face a fine of up to $500 plus court costs whether or not a motor vehicle was involved.

In addition to serving a suspension, a restoration fee must be paid before your license will be returned or your application for a learner's permit considered for processing. You will be subject to a fine, and the police are required to notify your parents. The court may then require you to be evaluated to determine the extent of your involvement with alcohol and may also require you to successfully complete a program of alcohol education, intervention or counseling.

If you are underage and are arrested and detained for blood, breath and/or urine testing, parental consent to conduct these tests is not required, but the police will notify your parents of the arrest. Penalties typically mirror those imposed on adults, often resulting in driving privilege suspension and enrollment in a treatment program. Drivers under 21 years of age may also face an automatic suspension of their driving privileges for one year or six months if placed in a consent decree program.

As for you insurance premiums, alcohol offenses are typically taken very seriously by auto insurance companies. Having a driver who may operate a vehicle while being impaired can be considered quite a risk for insurance providers.

To find out how your specific insurance carrier will react, and if your rates will be raised or if your policy could be canceled when your insurance company next pulls your motor vehicle record (MVR) and finds out about this non-moving offense and the suspended license due to the violation, check with your insurance agent.

Your agent should be able to tell you about your carrier's rating system and how an underage driving conviction will or will not affect your rates and/or policy being renewed. You may also try contacting the PA Department of Insurance to see if this state agency may give you information on how an insurance carrier may react to this offense.


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