Harrisburg – The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) aimed at reducing problematic drinking by increasing maximum fines and assessing a fee that will go towards prevention measures.
Senator Corman was joined at the committee meeting by State College Borough Police Chief Tom King, to advocate for the passage of the bills.
“Drinking violations are a burden across the Commonwealth, but in college and university settings such as State College, the problem is crippling,” stated Corman. “I engaged a working group to discuss ways to try to reduce the instances of alcohol violations, and these two bills represent what we feel are the right steps moving forward.”
Senate Bill 941, passed by a 12-1 margin, increases the maximum fine limit for underage drinking violations and public drunkenness to $1,000. The current maximum for underage violations is $500 on second and subsequent offenses, and $300 for all offenses of public drunkenness.
“No one enjoys raising fees, but municipalities are continuously facing the rising costs of alcohol related crimes, and those costs are borne by someone – in this case, the taxpayer,” Corman said. “The goal is to give the court discretion to make a larger impact on the person violating the law, and hopefully providing a deterrent to others. Additionally, if higher fines are chosen, the municipality and taxpayers will see relief in the cost they bear, this time paid by the actual violator.”
Senate Bill 943, passed by a 11-2 margin, adds a $100 fee to all alcohol related offenses in municipalities that include all or part of a university or college, and choose to create an alcohol prevention unit. “We have seen a lot of good come out of the efforts by the State College Borough Police and University Police force to engage the student community and organizations to prevent alcohol problems before they happen,” said Corman. “Those types of programs can have a big impact, and hopefully, the efforts will be able to reduce the costs to taxpayers by preventing the alcohol violations from happening.”