Providing booze to minors could become felony

Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- An amended bill that makes it a felony to provide alcohol to some underage drinkers passed the House on Wednesday.

The bill makes it a felony to provide alcohol to an underage person who later hurts or kills someone while under the influence.

The legislation was first approved on Tuesday, but lawmakers brought it up again Wednesday to narrow its focus.

The House approved an amendment offered by Rep. Bill Hudson, R-Juneau, to make the bill apply only when the minor operates motorized equipment, firearms or watercraft.

House Bill 330 is sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee at the request of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It is in response to a drunken-driving crash last summer that killed three teen-agers and an Anchorage Police officer.

''I think this gets right to the heart of what Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been speaking about,'' said Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Norman Rokeberg, R-Anchorage, opposed the amendment, saying it narrows the bill too much. Although he protested the amendment, supported the bill when it passed the House 36-1. Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, voted against the bill.

Reps. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon; Scott Ogan, R-Palmer; and Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, were absent.

Two Anchorage men in their 30s were charged with misdemeanors for supplying alcohol to the teens in the Anchorage case. A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

If such crimes were to become class C felonies, as called for under House Bill 330, the punishment could be up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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