The maximum fines given to those cited for underage drinking and public drunkenness will soon increase, after Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill proposed by Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, Thursday.
Corman said he hopes the bill acts as a deterrent for people engaging in this behavior and helps the community offset some of the resources it takes to combat the issue.
He said underage drinking is a waste of tax dollars on the community and said if the new law does stop it, it will save money.
“Hopefully people take notice that this isn’t something that we want [people] to engage in,” Corman said. “You’ll have a more peaceful community. That’s the goal.”
He said the law is nothing mandatory because it only creates a new maximum, but said a judge can levy anything they want to the violator.
Corman said State College Police Chief Tom King and the State College Borough Council asked him to help out with the legislation due to the high concentration of young people who engage in underage drinking and public drunkenness in State College.
He said he proposed the bill in 2011 and said it will probably go into effect as a law within 30 to 60 days.
Tor Michaels, chief of staff for Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, said he believes it will go a long way in deterring the cost of those who get out of control while drinking.
“We welcome it and it will be an added tool for the State College Police Department,” Michaels said. “It’s not a secret that the State College Borough Council has been coping with the cost of how to control drinking in State College.”
Michaels said he also hopes it curtails the amounts of public drunkenness in downtown State College.
Peter Morris, a member of the State College Borough Council, said the main idea of the law is to discourage underage drinking with the higher maximum fine.
“I guess it’s worth a try and we’ll see what happens,” Morris said. “It’s a good point, but they may not be as effective as people hope.”
He said though people may be likely to say the borough is trying to get more money out of it, he said the income is not very large.
“That’s not an issue,” Morris said. “It’s a discouraging factor.”