Snowmobiler cited for unlicensed child wins case

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) --An Anchorage man cited by the U.S. Forest Service for interfering with an officer during an argument over allowing his children to ride snowmobiles has been found not guilty by a U.S. magistrate.

Chris Prigge was cited in March for violating an obscure state law that requires a driver's license to operate a snowmachine or other off-road vehicle.

The Alaska Legislature has since voted to repeal the law. Gov. Tony Knowles has yet to sign the bill.

Prigge was at Turnagain Pass in the Chugach National Forest on March 22 and 23. He received three tickets from the same forest officer: one for allowing his 8-year-old son to ride a snowmachine and two for interfering with an officer.

The government dismissed the first citation and tried Prigge in U.S. District Court in Anchorage on the two interfering tickets.

In a 28-page opinion handed down Tuesday, Magistrate John Roberts ruled that while Prigge's actions were ''disrespectful, insulting and aggravating,'' the government failed to prove he had interfered with an officer's duties.

''Officers are trained to be hard shelled against public verbal abuse,'' Roberts wrote. ''The regulation relied upon does not provide authority to penalize an individual for acting like a jerk.''

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