Alaska Senate Considering New Punishments for Underage Drinking

As the holiday party season ramps up, a major overhaul of the way alcohol charges for minor consumption are handled has been forwarded by the Alcoholic Control Board and is included in legislation currently in the Senate. Part of a complete revision of Alaska’s alcohol laws, the proposal would eliminate misdemeanor charges for minors caught consuming alcohol.

The current law states that anyone under the age of 21 caught for a third violation could lose their driver’s license, get 96 or more hours of community service and be compelled to enroll in a juvenile alcohol safety program.

The proposal, which is contained in a complete rewrite of the state’s alcohol laws that’s currently before the Legislature, would do away with the misdemeanor penalties for minor consuming alcohol. Because the punishments are considered too harsh by many in law enforcement, underage cases are handled very differently depending on the area and who is involved.

The new law would impose a $500 ticket on anyone under 21 caught drinking and the offense would no longer be labeled as a misdemeanor. In addition, the ticket could be reduced by completing an alcohol education or treatment program within six months of the court hearing.

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