New fee for underage drinking proposed
HARRISBURG — The sponsor of a new Pennsylvania law increasing maximum fines for underage drinking said on Monday that he plans to seek an additional financial penalty in the legislative session that starts next month.
The new law will boost the maximum fine for underage drinking from $300 to $500 and double the maximum for subsequent offenses to $1,000.
Even with those provisions taking effect Dec. 24, Sen. Jake Corman said he will resubmit a bill that would allow municipalities that include all or part of a university or college to impose a $100 fee for alcohol-related offenses to help finance local prevention programs. That bill died at the end of the last legislative session.
“Any time you talk about raising fees, people get nervous,” the Centre County lawmaker said when asked why the fee failed to gain support.
Corman says the higher fines going into effect later this month are designed to help communities such as State College, home to Penn State University, afford the spiraling cost of prosecuting alcohol-related crime and to discourage underage drinking.
Craig Summers, chief of police in Kutztown, said the maximum should be $1,000 even for a first offense.
“I don't think when underage people are drinking that they're even thinking about” the fine, Summers told The Morning Call in Allentown.
District Judge Donna Butler, who handles cases in a portion of Lehigh County, told the newspaper that a state judicial association suggested that the increased fine would have little effect on underage drinking.
“They're going to do their partying. I don't think it's much of a deterrent,” she said.