HARRISBURG (March 8) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced important progress for two bills that would greatly assist college towns with alcohol-related challenges, including the Borough of West Chester.
Dinniman said the Senate’s Judiciary Committee this week passed Senate Bill 941 and Senate Bill 943 – legislation that would significantly increase revenue for municipalities by increasing the fees and possible fines for alcohol-related offenses.
Senate Bill 941 would increase the maximum fine for public drunkenness from $300 to $1,000 and the maximum fine for a second and subsequent underage-drinking offense from $500 to $1,000. Senate Bill 943 would let municipalities tack a separate $100 court fee onto those convicted of various alcohol-related offenses ranging from public drunkenness to possessing false identification to driving while intoxicated.
“These bills correctly make the law-breakers themselves responsible for paying more of the money it takes to police their actions,” Dinniman said. “For too long in towns like West Chester, law-abiding taxpayers have had to pay more and more for police due to the irresponsible and illegal behavior of others. These two bills, by increasing fines for the first time in 40 years and by assessing a new $100 court fee, help tip the balance in the taxpayers’ favor and deserve the support of all legislators who are on the taxpayers’ side.”
The bills now must be approved by the full Senate, the House of Representatives and the governor.
Dinniman said if both bills become law, the Borough of West Chester and its taxpayers could potentially receive several hundred thousand dollars in new revenue each year that could be used for law enforcement.
For example, in 2011, borough police issued 415 citations for public drunkenness, amounting to $123,900 in total fines. Under Senate Bill 941, the maximum fine would be raised from $300 to $1,000, meaning the borough could have realized a maximum of $415,000 in total fines – a difference of almost $300,000 annually. Regarding Senate Bill 943, in 2011 borough police issued citations for about 1,200 alcohol-related offenses for which the $100 fee could be applied, meaning the borough could have realized an additional $120,000 in potential revenue. The increased revenue could be used for law enforcement and the prevention of alcohol violations.
For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s West Chester Office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.