Alaska lawmaker pushes to decriminalize underage drinking
As lawmakers look for ways to trim the budget this session, Sen. Peter Micciche is proposing a new approach to underage drinking he says would be less stigmatizing for young people and save the state money.
Under Title 4, underage drinking can be considered a misdemeanor criminal offense that requires court appearances by both the defendant and police officer involved. A conviction leaves a lifelong mark on a young person’s legal record.
Sen. Micciche and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said the law is too expensive too enforce, and unnecessarily harsh.
“Just a show of hands of people here, how many of you did not ever consume as a minor?” Micciche asked at a lunch presentation to fellow lawmakers Monday. “There’s not one hand up and I won’t raise mine either.”
Senate Bill 99, sponsored by Micciche, would make underage drinking a violation, fineable at $500.
“We think a citation is the way to go. Doesn’t mean we have lower expectations, right? We expect that behavior to not continue,” Micciche said. “A lot of these young people have had their future potential compromised for a single mistake that many of us have made, but were not caught.”
The hefty fine could be reduced to $50, if the person attends a court alcohol safety action program.
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