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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 8, 2016 02:25 PM
From: Representative Harold A. English
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Address Underage Drinking
In the near future I will be introducing a bill to begin to address a problem in Pennsylvania that we often don’t talk enough about: underage drinking. Just a few months ago in my district a tragic death occurred in Shaler Township. Ava Campbell, a six year old girl, was leaving a friend’s house when an alleged drunk driver under the age of 21 with multiple arrests for underage drinking struck and killed Ava as she held her mother’s hand.

While the fate of the underage driver whose choices resulted in Ava’s untimely death is still to be determined, I believe we can make changes in this statute to allow the courts to identify the potential for alcohol abuse at a young age. These changes may not only help save the life of those who would be put at risk by poor choices fueled by alcohol, but also change the course of the lives of offenders.

My legislation will change the sentencing formula for the second and third offenses of underage drinking as follows:
  • First Offense: no changes to the current law; a Magisterial District Judge has the ability to preadjudicate the charge and require the defendant to take Alcohol Awareness classes or perform community service.
  • Second Offense: the charge shall not be preadjudicated; if the defendant is found guilty, the charge will stand as a Summary Offense. The defendant shall be required to take an Alcohol Awareness program approved by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and prior to sentencing be evaluated on the extent of his or her involvement with alcohol.
  • Third Offense: the charge shall not be preadjudicated; it will result in a misdemeanor of the third degree and again require that the defendant be evaluated prior to sentencing on the extent of his or her involvement with alcohol.
The Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs were instrumental in the drafting of this legislation. While nothing can make the Campbell family or any family whole again who has suffered a tragedy such as this, I believe this is a step in the right direction toward addressing underage drinking in Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions please contact Lori Mizgorski in my District Office at 412-487-6605.

Introduced as HB2047