Underage DUI in Lancaster, PA: A Guide for Parents

Your underage child has been busted for driving under the influence. Your first concern is for their safety. Once you know they’re okay, you start to wonder how the charge will impact your son or daughter—and your family.

Check out these frequently asked questions about underage DUI in Lancaster County, PA.

What happens if my child has been arrested for DUI in Lancaster County?

About 25 percent of the car crashes that kill teens involve underage drinking, a reality that leads states like Pennsylvania to take underage DUIs very seriously. If arrested in PA, your child will be automatically charged under the State’s highest BAC (blood alcohol concentration) tier, even if they consumed as low as a .02 reading of alcohol.

If your child is under age 18, you will be notified of the arrest. The case will then be processed through Juvenile Court, which will begin with the filing of a juvenile petition. Consent decrees are frequently available for juvenile offenders, which can help them address their issues without an adjudication of delinquency (the juvenile equivalent of a conviction).

If they’re 18 or older, they will be prosecuted as an adult, even if they are still a high school student.

In Lancaster County, underage DUI offenders face sentences ranging from 3 days in jail or a few weeks of house arrest to six months of supervision. They also face a 12-month license suspension. Additionally, guilty drivers will pay fines totaling $500 to $5,000.

However, your son or daughter may face fewer penalties if they’re accepted into the Lancaster County ARD program.

What is ARD?

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program gives eligible first-time non-convicted DUI offenders alternative penalties to a guilty plea.

If accepted into ARD, your child will need to pay restitution, fines, and court costs as well as participate in community service and alcohol safety school. License suspension in ARD lasts on average approximately three months, and your child will also be subject to probation.

In addition to imposing less serious penalties, the process allows the DUI charge to be dismissed and expunged from the criminal record after the program is completed and fines are paid.

How else will this impact my child and my family?

Academics & Sports

DUI charges can hurt your child’s academic career, whether they play on the lacrosse team or belong to an academic organization. Each school has its own Code of Conduct, so refer to that to learn exactly how a DUI will impact your child. Depending on the school, your son or daughter could lose the right to play on sports teams or participate in events, like dances.

If charged with DUI during high school, your child may need to disclose the arrest or conviction on college applications, a factor that can impact the already-competitive admissions process. It may also affect the ability to earn or retain scholarships. What’s more, the DUI can make it harder for them to obtain campus housing.


An underage DUI could harm your child’s future job prospects because they’ll need to report it on employment applications. While this can affect the ability to get any job, it can make it much harder for your son or daughter to find good employment in licensed professions, like law or medicine.

Car Insurance

If your child is convicted of a DUI while still listed on your auto insurance policy, you can expect your rates to go up—in some cases, significantly. The insurance company can also refuse to renew the policy, or they can terminate it outright.

Protect your child’s future.

The penalties for underage DUI in Lancaster are serious, impacting your child’s personal, academic, and work life for years. Talk with a Lancaster attorney with extensive experience handling underage DUIs and expungements. Contact Mark Walmer.

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