In an attempt to crackdown on alcohol related crime in college towns, a
buzzkill bill has passed through the Pennsylvania senate that would increase the maximum fines for public drunkenness and underage drinking violations.
Both offenses would come with a maximum penalty of $1000 under the new bill. That’s a 100% increase from the $500 fine currently levied in underage drinking cases and up 233% from the current $300 public drunkenness citation.
According to a spokeswoman in the governor’s office, Tom Corbett is likely to pass the legislation when it comes across his desk.
The bill was introduced by republican senator Jake Corman, back in 2010, when the national spotlight was on Penn State’s drinking culture. After being tabled for two years, the bill was re-introduced last week in a Senate Judiciary Committee that was attended by State College Police Chief, Tom King.
According to Sen. Corman, the added financial penalty will not only help curb dangerous drinking by bankrupting
the mom and dad of offenders, but it will give relief to those really footing the bill for out-of-control keggers — the tax payers.
State College Borough spends nearly half of its annual budget on law enforcement and of crimes responded to by State College police, two-thirds are alcohol related. The revenue produced by this bill would help alleviate the financial burden on local municipalities dealing with a bunch of drunk 20-some-year-olds pissing on lawns and puking in pizza shops.
Corman also noted that the $300 public drunkenness fine is due for a check with the inflation rate as it hasn’t seen an increased since 1972. But $300 is exactly what Corman was fined in 1995 when he was arrested for drunk driving in Arlington, Virginia†. Corman’s bill doesn’t directly address penalties for DUI charges.
Also, legislation that is bundled with the aforementioned bill gives college towns the power to add a $100 fee to all alcohol-related offenses to fund the creation of an alcohol prevention unit.
Under these conditions, a student found drinking under 21 or stumbling down College Ave could expect to pay $1,000 in initial fines, an added $100 to help pay for more undercover cop cars and the $200 fine levied on Penn Staters for university mandated alcohol intervention called BASICS. That’s the cost of over 81 cases of Natty Light.
Is a $1300 fine an appropriate punishment for a night of boozing? Should local tax-payers and municipalities continue to bear the cost of punch drunk students? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.
†Jake Corman Admits to DUI, Smoking Pot, Centre Daily Times, May 1, 1998.