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Local Police Ramping Up Enforcement on State Patty's Day with Fines and Jail Time

by on February 18, 2013 10:02 PM

Updated at 4:30 p.m. Friday

Beginning Friday night and lasting through early Sunday morning, State College Police will be in full force in the borough in an effort to manage the State Patty's Day crowds. 

Police said they treat Friday through Sunday like any other weekend that has an 'event,' such as a home football game. Police from surrounding townships, such as Spring, Ferguson and Patton will assist police downtown. State police will also be on location. 

Magisterial District Judge Allen Sinclair will be on-call all weekend to perform arraignments as police make arrests. 

Posted at 10 p.m. Monday

Local police departments aren't cutting any breaks to individuals who choose to celebrate irresponsibly on State Patty's day over the weekend – and they're seeking the maximum fine against offenders.

Penn State officials announced Monday between Friday and Saturday, officers from the Penn State Police Department and the State College Police Department will be issuing citations and fines, not warnings, to anyone who violates the law in the Borough.

Police plan to request that maximum fines be levied against offenders. The fine for a first offense for both underage drinking and public drunkenness is $500 per offense – up from $300 – and $1,000 for any subsequent offense. Certain violators (where allowed by law) may be taken directly and immediately before the court for processing, according to Penn State.

A magisterial district judge will be on-call all weekend. Individuals who have been arrested without a warrant will be arraigned or held for collateral via video from the central booking center at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte. Anyone found guilty and required to post collateral or anyone who is incapable of posting bail will be held in jail until the required fine or bail money is obtained, officials said.

There's also the threat of jail time. Court officials reserve the right to impose a prison term of one or more days against anyone found guilty. Without exception, violators will be charged a court cost of about $140, for any citation.

"We have tried so many strategies since this event started in 2007, without a large impact," said Tom King, State College Borough police chief.

"From our arrest data of the past couple of years, we know that about two-thirds of all criminal violations are committed by people from outside Centre County and not students at the University Park campus. These 36 hours – which go from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday – are our busiest 36 hours of criminal activity for the year. That's busier than home football game weekends, Arts Festival weekend and any other time," King said. 

According to university and borough officials, the decision to seek maximum fines and impose immediate arraignments is part of a "larger, more encompassing strategy to deter participation in State Patty's Day, a potentially destructive drinking event that began six years ago."

Officials said there will be strict enforcement of all borough and state laws, including an increased law enforcement presence. The combination of efforts, from the Interfraternity Council's ban on hosted parties, to the expected closure of some downtown State College bars and university residence halls limiting the number of guests to one per room is expected to free up police to deploy to the downtown area, apartment buildings and adjacent neighborhoods.

"I am confident that with the implementation of a number of strategies, including maximum fines and/or an instant court, we can end this event," said King.

Damon Sims, Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs, said he and State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine met with members of the Tavern Association on Friday and plan to do so again Tuesday, where they intend to reach a consensus regarding the status of bars on State Patty's Day. In the past, many local bar owners have made the decision not to serve alcohol on the student-created holiday. 

A list of common violations and their maximum fines are below. Description and maximum fines include (as defined by the Pennsylvania Crimes Code and the State College Borough Codification of Ordinances):

  • Public drunkenness: Appearing in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol to the degree that (he) may endanger (himself) or other persons or property, or annoy persons in (his) vicinity. Maximum fine: $500 for first offense, and $1,000 for second and subsequent offenses.
  • Urinating in public (borough Ordinance): Urinating or defecating on any public right-of-way or any private property within view of public right-of-way. Maximum fine: $600
  • Underage drinking: Persons under the age of 21 found to be drinking alcohol, buying, alcohol, attempting to buy alcohol, possessing alcohol or knowingly transporting alcohol. Maximum fine: $500 for first offense plus a 90-day driver's license suspension; and $1,000 for second and subsequent offenses plus a one-year driver's license suspension.
  • Carrying an open container of an alcoholic beverage (borough ordinance): Possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage regardless of age on any public street, sidewalk, parking garage, parking lot or park. Maximum fine: $600
  • Providing alcohol to minors: Intentionally or knowingly selling, furnishing, purchasing with the intent to furnish, any liquor, malt or brewed beverage to anyone under the age of 21. Maximum fine: $1,000 and as much as one year in jail
  • Noise Control Ordinance (borough ordinance): Unlawful to make or cause to be made unreasonable noise that can be heard beyond the property boundary of the source of the noise. Maximum fine: $1,000
  • Disorderly conduct: Engaging in fighting or threatening, or in violent, tumultuous behavior; making unreasonable noise; using obscene language or making obscene gestures or creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor. Maximum fine: $300
  • Vandalism: Intentionally and maliciously destroying property of another. Maximum fine: $300 plus restitution to repair damage.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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