HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill sponsored by Sen. Jake Corman, R- Bellefonte, which aims to reduce alcohol offenses and the significant impact they have on boroughs like State College.
Senate Bill 941 increases the maximum fine for public drunkenness and underage drinking to $1,000 on second and subsequent offenses.
“This will hopefully provide a deterrent so that the individuals who are arrested for alcohol-related offenses will make better decisions the next time around,” Corman said. “Additionally, if higher fines are chosen, the municipality and tax payers will see relief in the cost they bear, this time paid by the actual violator, rather than through increased property taxes.”
Currently, the maximum fine limit for underage drinking violations is $500 on second and subsequent offenses, and $300 for all offenses of public drunkenness. The $300 fine for public drunkenness has not been changed since 1972. If adjusted for inflation, the fine would be $1,650.
“Drinking violations are a burden across the Commonwealth, but in college and university settings, such as State College, the problem is crippling,” stated Corman.
“We started a working group as a direct response to area residents who had enough of the impacts problematic drinking in their community. And the problem only seems to be getting worse.”
Corman worked with local officials on the legislation, including State College Borough Manager Tom Fountain and State College Borough Police Chief Tom King. They provided data showing that over the past 10 years, alcohol violations have significantly increased, as well as blood alcohol content of violators and emergency room visits for alcohol-induced medical problems.
“No one enjoys raising fines, 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. “Fine increases have shown a real impact in other university communities across the country. Hopefully, this legislation will be able to reduce the costs to taxpayers by preventing the alcohol violations from continuously happening.”