Senator Corman Introduces Legislation to Deter Repeated Alcohol Abuse Violations And Help Fund Municipal Efforts to Prevent Drinking Offenses

(Harrisburg) — Senator Jake Corman (R- Bellefonte) introduced a three-piece legislative package today, Senate Bills 1466, 1467, and 1468 aimed at deterring repeated alcohol abuse and funding police efforts to prevent the violations associated with problem drinking.

“Many people who drink do it responsibly,” said Corman.  “This legislation targets individuals who are committing the offenses.  If they are going to cause more resources to be necessary, they are the ones who should pay for them.”

Throughout the summer, Senator Corman assembled and worked with a committee of local officials, judges, attorneys, law enforcement and university representatives to address the issue of alcohol violations and help draft the legislation.

The bills address the concern over problem drinking two-fold: by providing a stronger deterrent to prevent repeat alcohol-related violations, and by directing a new court fee to municipalities to assist in management and prevention of violations.

The first two bills seek to add a stronger deterrent by increasing the maximum fine for underage drinking and public drunkenness, as well as increasing the grading for repeated underage violations to a misdemeanor.

“The current maximums for underage drinking and public drunkenness haven’t changed since the 1970s and are no longer effective in deterring such crimes,” stated Corman.  “If fines and penalties are not in line with current realities, we end up inviting additional and possibly more severe offenses to the system.  Hopefully, these tougher fines and penalties will enter into the decision-making process of an individual before they act unlawfully.”

The third piece of legislation will allow municipalities that are home to all or parts of a Pennsylvania college or university to charge an additional $100 fee on alcohol-related convictions. In order to enact the fee, a municipality would need to first create an alcohol prevention unit with the goal of decreasing problem drinking through prevention practices, such as working within the communities and universities in under-served areas or conducting special events to promote safe drinking practices.

“The bottom line is that about two-thirds of the 7,000 crimes reported each year in State College are alcohol-related,” said Corman.  “The municipalities are living with the negative effects and paying the majority of the costs. This bill helps to reimburse those municipalities and hopefully, will drive down the actual number of offenses, which is good for the community and good for public safety.”

Senator Corman will host a public hearing by the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26), on the impact of alcohol violations on municipalities surrounding college campuses Monday, Sept. 13, at the State College Borough Municipal Building at 1:00 p.m.  The three-bill package will be discussed along with the topic of municipal alcohol impact.
Scott Sikorski