New state law ramps up penalties for underage drinking

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Nov 24, 2012 7:06 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- A new state law aimed to reduce underage drinking and public drunkenness goes into effect next month.

The bill was developed in close consultation with law enforcement in college towns across Pennsylvania.

Senator Judy Schwank represents Berks County, which is home to five colleges.

The Democrat says the new law will send a message to students with heavy fines.

"If you are caught doing this and fined, it's going to hit you pretty hard in the pocketbook," Schwank says. "For students that most of the time are on a limited budget, maybe that reinforces the lesson that public drinking, being drunk, is not okay."

The measure sets maximum fines for a first public drunkenness or underage drinking offense at $500, and the penalty increases to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

The law goes into effect on Christmas Eve.

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