Anew law targeting underage drinking took effect with the new year, increasing the maximum fine from $500 to $1,000 for second and subsequent offenses.
First off ... good.
It might make those under 21 think twice before they take a drink, which would be especially welcome in college towns like our area, home to York College and Penn State York.
For the most part, locals get along just fine with the students. But think of any problem in recent years, and it's almost a given alcohol was involved.
State Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican representing State College and the Penn State community, sponsored the legislation, which won approval from the General Assembly last October.
"This will hopefully provide a deterrent so that the individuals who are arrested for alcohol-related offenses will make better decisions the next time around," he said then.
Hopefully that's the case.
But we suspect that all depends on who ends up paying the fine.
If an underage drinker knows Mom or Dad will foot the bill if he or she is caught with a beer, it doesn't matter what the fine is. Any deterrent goes out the window.
Junior might incur his parents' wrath, but let's be real: Ticking off the folks isn't the same as ticking off a judge.
To really make sure these kids get the message, there must be a way to ensure they and they alone pay the price for their behavior.
A healthy dose of community service -- in addition to the fine -- would get their attention in a hurry. A hundred hours would probably do the trick.
Parents might be willing to pay a fine to get their children out of trouble, but they'd probably draw the line at wearing an orange vest and picking up litter by the side of the road for days on end.
And even if on some planet a parent were willing to do so, that's not how community service works. If Junior did the crime, oh, he would do the time -- the judge would see to that.
Just something to consider as we gauge the effectiveness of the new law.