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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 11, 2017 03:20 PM
From: Representative Dom Costa
To: All House members
Subject: Underage Drinking: Ava's Law - Former House Bill 2073
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation – former House Bill 2073 of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session – that would strengthens penalties for repeat underage drinking offenders and ensures these individuals receive proper court supervision.

My legislation is titled “Ava’s Law” to honor the memory of 6-year-old Ava Campbell, who was struck and killed in Allegheny County by a repeat underage drinking offender who was driving while intoxicated. Currently, any underage drinking violation is graded as a summary offense. This legislation will increase the grading to a misdemeanor of the third degree for a second or subsequent offense. The bill also permits a magisterial district judge to access prior juvenile court records and requires the judge to check these records when hearing a case involving underage drinking. This allows the magisterial district judge to determine whether the juvenile was previously charged with underage drinking or driving under the influence.

Multiple arrests for underage drinking or driving under the influence are a red flag indicating that a juvenile has an alcohol/substance abuse problem. The current summary offense for underage drinking carries little court supervision and thus does not force young people to change their behavior and avoid recidivism. My legislation would ensure a juvenile charged with a second or subsequent offense appears in the Court of Common Pleas, where the judge can order probation with restrictions on operating a motor vehicle.

This bill would not only help prevent tragedies such as that which occurred to Ava Campbell, but would also ensure a young person with an alcohol/substance abuse problem gets the help he or she needs. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB307