With winter break around the corner, it's time for many college students in Pennsylvania to kick back, relax and enjoy the respite from exams. However, when that celebration involves alcohol, an encounter with law enforcement officials can put a damper on the holiday spirit.
This will be more true than ever later this month when increased fines go into effect for underage drinking offenses in Pennsylvania. Beginning Christmas Eve, the fine for a first-time underage drinking offense will increase from $300 to $500. A second offense could come with a price tag of $1,000 - an extra financial burden no one needs over the holiday season.
Governor Tom Corbett signed the law into effect last month. Proponents hope that the stiffer fines will act as a deterrent against underage drinking. However, college students and some law enforcement officials doubt that they will be effective. Getting caught is often the last thing on students' minds when they head out for the night.
The larger fees will also help cities pay for damages caused by alcohol-fueled crime. One law enforcement official said that State College spends $3 million every year addressing alcohol-related crimes.
Those charged with underage drinking or public drunkenness could face more than just monetary penalties. A citation could potentially result in academic consequences, a loss of on-campus housing or even revoked scholarships.
If you or a loved one are facing alcohol-related charges, it is essential to consult a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI and related matters. They can help you review your case, build a defense and navigate the courts to seek the best possible outcome for you.
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "Underage drinkers beware: Increased fines coming," Patrick Lester, Dec. 6, 2012
To learn more about alcohol-related offenses in Pennsylvania, please visit our website.