Everyone knows that underage and binge drinking is not a Penn State problem but is instead a problem at college campuses across the United States. However, following the death of Timothy Piazza, whom the Centre County District Attorney has claimed may have had a blood alcohol level as high as .36%, Penn State and excessive consumption of alcohol have been in the news. In response to the tragedy, the Piazza family called on Penn State to make many changes, one of which was a call to change to the Good Samaritan policies for underage drinking and alcohol overdoses. Sadly, Penn State has not followed through on its on promises and no changes have been made.
Many people enjoy celebrating Independence Day by getting together with family and friends at a backyard cookout. Backyard barbeques often include having a few beers or mixed drinks. According to statistics, the 4th of July is one of the holidays during which many of the drinkers are under the age of 21. While many of us have imbibed some booze while being underage, that does not make it legal, not for the minor or the adult furnisher. Growing up, some adults permitted my friends and me to drink with the expectation that we would not drive afterwards, and the belief was that the adults could not prevent underage drinking, so the goal was to control the environment in which the drinking occurred. As a young man, I enjoyed the idea. As an adult, I understand the rationale, but I believe that I will take a different approach with my kids. I will not know definitively what I will do in this situation until I actually get to that point in my life. My kids are currently 10 and 8, so I am not too concerned about them consuming an alcohol just yet. However, when I do get to that point in my life, I do not believe I will permit my kids or their friends to drink because I understand the severe negative consequences to me personally, to the minors, and to the public at large that can flow from such a decision.
The recent death of Timothy Piazza has put underage drinking and excessive consumption of alcohol on college campuses into the spotlight again. The overconsumption of alcohol at Penn State is not a Greek Life problem, it is a university dilemma that is getting worse because it is not being addressed. I represent a lot of Penn Student and their friends that get arrested for Underage Drinking or Public Drunkenness, and many of those students had attended parties at apartments in State College or in dorms on campus. I am routinely seeing blood alcohol levels that are 3 and even 4 times the legal limit. In many of those cases, the clients were actually found passed out by the police.
It's a choice many college students make: drinking while under the legal age of 21 at a college party or gathering. It may seem like no big deal to enjoy a drink while socializing on campus. But an underage drinking conviction comes with penalties that may be heftier than you think.
The police are familiar with observing Amish buggies on roadways in rural Central Pennsylvania, but they do not often see young men riding on top of the buggies. Some Pennsylvania State Troopers in Indiana County recently encountered such a sight and conducted a traffic stop of the Amish buggy. The stop led to the discovery that the passengers were under 21 and were drunk, and the police also found that the underage driver was also drunk and thereby charged with driving under the influence. According to an online article, the driver's blood alcohol was .065%. As most people know, the legal limit for adults is .08%, but the legal blood alcohol level for someone under 21 who is behind the wheel is .02%.
I would say that this could only happen in Pennsylvania, but there are actually Amish communities in many states across the United States. It just so happens that the Lancaster area may be the most famous area associated with Amish, and this case happened to occur in Lancaster County. While I do not believe that young Amish adults are as involved in criminal activity as portrayed by the television show Amish Mafia, many young adults do make bad decisions. According to an online article on fox43.com, a few young Amish men were in the parking lot of a Turkey Hill convenience store when a 25-year-old man pulled in and decided to impress the young men by showing them his pistol and by giving them some Yuengling Lager beer. The entire group then left the parking lot, the man in his car and the young Amish men in their buggy. The man later passed the buggy, and, according the article, it sounds as if the man abruptly stopped his car and was then rear-ended by the horse and buggy.
Underage Drinking happens. We all know it. We also know that it is illegal, and most of us will not, either for moral, ethical, or legal reasons, purchase alcohol for minors. There is a big difference between supporting something and acknowledging that it happens.
College campuses across Pennsylvania and across the United States are full of underage drinkers and underage drinking parties. While the partying activity is widespread, it is still illegal and not ignored by most police departments. In a recent York County, Pennsylvania incident, a few York College students decided to host a party and possibly make some money by charging $10.00 per person to attend. Because their marketing budget was limited, the young entrepreneurs turned to Facebook to spread the word. Regrettably, they failed to understand that the police also have access to social media.
According to a Huffington Post article, a woman at a Texas music festival was not issued an Underage Drinking citation after she beat the officers at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The event was apparently recorded and went viral. The officers are now in trouble and have been banned from working the same concert in the future.
According to a recent article, the percentage of high school seniors and even younger students that have consumed alcohol in Pennsylvania is higher than the national average. The article draws its data information from a 2013 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency report.