HARRISBURG - The sponsor of a new Pennsylvania law increasing maximum fines for underage drinking said Monday he planned 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 (R., Centre) said, he would resubmit a bill that would allow municipalities that include all or part of a university or college to impose an additional $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 lawmaker said when asked why the fee did not attract support.
Corman said the higher fines that take effect this month were designed to help communities like State College, home to Pennsylvania State University, afford the spiraling cost of prosecuting alcohol-related crime and 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 Allentown Morning Call.
District Judge Donna Butler, who handles cases in part of Lehigh County, told the newspaper a state judicial association suggested 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.