Rockview State Police recently filed a charge Public Drunkenness before a Centre County district court against a Bellefonte woman after they found her walking topless near the State College Nittany Mall. The police stopped the woman to investigate, and they came to the conclusion that she was under the influence of bath salts. She was later sent to the Mount Nittany Medical Center for evaluation.
Public Drunkenness Covers Intoxciation By Both Drugs & Alcohol
Some people wonder how a person can be charged with Public Drunkenness when the person was not drunk or under the influence of alcohol. While the stereotypical case of Public Drunkenness involves an intoxicated, underage Penn State student stumbling across campus to reach the dorms, the Public Drunkenness charge in Pennsylvania is actually covers "drunkenness" or intoxication due to the use of both drugs and alcohol. A charge of Public Drunkenness, found in section 5505 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, prohibits a person from appearing in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that the person poses a danger to health, safety, or causes a public inconvenience.
Severe Penalties for State College Public Drunkenness Charge
Senator Jake Corman, the representative covering State College and Penn State University, recently sponsored a bill that was recently signed into law that increased the maximum penalties permitted for a conviction of Public Drunkenness and Underage Drinking. In the past, Public Drunkenness, a non-traffic summary offense, had a maximum sentence of 90 days incarceration and a $300.00 fine. After the amendment becomes effective, the maximum fine for Public Drunkenness increases to $1,000.00, which is more severe than the mandatory minimum fines for most first offenses of DUI. As a State College criminal defense lawyer that represents many Penn State students that have been charged with Underage Drinking and Public Drunkenness, I am very disappointed that a person charged with a summary violation for drinking underage could receive a more severe penalty than a person that was drunk and chose to get behind the wheel of a car. This is a situation in which the law simply doesn't make sense.