It’s been a long week of classes, but finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The weekend is finally here, and you can’t wait to have fun and let loose with your friends. If we’re being honest, that “fun” for many involves alcohol, so if you’re under 21, that means engaging in illegal underage drinking. Excessive drinking should be discouraged, but a recent fine increase doesn’t seem effective.
A state law has gone into effect that stipulates underage drinkers can receive a maximum fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second. The maximum fine before the new state law went into effect was $300 and hasn’t changed since the 1970s, so hadn’t been adjusted for inflation.
State Sen. Jake Corman was the prime sponsor of a bill that Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law in October. Corman has repeatedly said that the hope is that this stiffer fine will act as a deterrent for those considering drinking alcohol underage.
During a State College Borough Council meeting, Police Chief Tom King said more than two-thirds of the 6,500 crimes that police respond to involve alcohol.
King said that in 2011, 657 Penn State students were taken to the hospital for alcohol overdoses. Of those students, the average blood-alcohol content was an all-time high of .287. In 2010, the average was .255.
Those statistics are unacceptable — there is no other way to view those numbers. But a higher fine is not going to be able to change that statistic.
Underage students aren’t going to turn down an invite from a friend because they are worried about paying a high fine.
And in many cases, the students themselves might not be paying the fine money — it will probably be parents who have to reach to their checkbooks to pay the fine.
It requires a more serious effort of leadership at the student level to deter students from the point of being obliterated.
It would be better to scare students before they thinking of getting drunk beyond control on Friday nights. Rather than forcing incoming freshman to watch watered-down videos of current students giving advice, there should be a seminar at FTCAP to showcase the dangers of alcohol.
It would be beneficial to have a doctor from the emergency room at Mount Nittany how scary it is to be so close to death that you need to have your stomach pumped. There is no reason to show a watered-down version of what happens — when the reality of dangerously excessive drinking is anything but watered-down.