Lawmakers take aim at terrorism, drunk drivers, car dealers

Posted: Tuesday, July 02, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A number of new laws approved by the Alaska Legislature took effect Monday, including tougher penalties for terrorism and tougher rules for unscrupulous car dealers.

Lawmakers also revamped the state's drunk driving laws and raised fees for drivers licenses. In all, 11 bills signed into law by Gov. Tony Knowles took effect July 1.

Among them was a new law sponsored by Rep. Norm Rokeberg, R-Anchorage, to increase fines for first-offense drunken driving from $250 to $1,500.

House Bill 4 also requires authorities to seize vehicles used in felony drunken driving cases. The law also increases the jail term for killing someone in a drunken-driving crash from five years to seven.

Several DWI bills surfaced this legislative session following a drunken driving crash in Anchorage last year that killed three teens and an Anchorage police officer. Two men in their 30s had supplied the alcohol to the teens.

House Bill 330, sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee, makes it a felony to supply alcohol to a minor if the underage drinker then seriously hurts or kills someone. It takes effect in 90 days.

And House Bill 281, by Rep. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, would allow civil lawsuits to be filed against someone who provides booze to a minor who then hurts or kills someone while drunk. It became law Monday.

Legislators rejected a provision in Rokeberg's bill to increase sentences for most other drunken-driving offenses. It would have also required alcohol treatment in prison.

Alaskans began paying $5 more for drivers' licenses and state identification cards on Monday. House Bill 344 raised the fees to pay for a secure digital photo identification system.

House Bill 350 lengthens sentences for certain acts of terrorism, and makes it a crime to initiate fake anthrax scares and to tamper with water supplies.

Those were among changes the Knowles administration had sought, based on post-Sept. 11 recommendations from district attorneys around the state.

The Legislature also approved a new vehicle sales law that gives consumers some protections against unscrupulous dealers.

Under the new law, which took effect on Monday, car dealers must disclose the known history of the vehicle to a buyer and also cannot use inflated discount prices in advertising.

Rep. Andrew Halcro, R-Anchorage, said the original proposal would have required dealers to acknowledge all known defects before selling a car. But organizations representing car dealers objected, he said.

Under the new law, a person selling a car to a dealer acknowledges in writing the car's history. That information is then passed on to subsequent buyers.

Among other new laws:

-- Senate Bill 260 allows owners of antique and classic cars to use Alaska license plates that correspond to the year the vehicle was manufactured. Car owners pay a one-time fee of $10.

-- House Bill 96 orders the state Department of Natural Resources to study the cost of preserving the Jesse Lee Home in Seward. The orphanage, former home of the Alaska flag designer John Ben ''Benny'' Benson, has been empty since it was damaged in the 1964 earthquake.

-- Senate Bill 11 requires children enrolled in school at 6 years old to regularly attend school. Alaska's compulsory enrollment age is 7.

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