Bill would make adults liable for providing alcohol to kids

Posted: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Adults who provide alcohol to underage drinkers could be liable for the damages those drinkers cause under a bill approved by the House on Monday.

Rep. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said he introduced the bill because of a drunken-driving crash last year that killed three teen-agers and an Anchorage police officer. Two Anchorage men in their 30s were convicted of supplying alcohol to the teens.

''We were looking at what we could do differently,'' Meyer said.

Under House Bill 281, civil lawsuits could be filed against people who knowingly provide alcohol to minors who then cause property damage, injury or death because they were under the influence.

The bill isn't aimed at adults who host wedding receptions, Meyer said, or parents who let their children have a glass of wine with dinner. The word ''knowingly'' protects wedding hosts from liability if minors sneak a drink from the punch bowl, he said.

The measure is aimed at people who are ''waiting outside the 7-11'' store or are available any time of the night to buy booze for underage drinkers, Meyer said.

Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel, said the bill could reduce teen drinking in rural Alaska, where bootleggers provide alcohol in dry villages.

''Bootleggers unfortunately are not carding people,'' Kapsner said. ''I think this gives us some leverage with bootleggers.''

The measure will not help the families of the victims in the Anchorage crash last summer, since it was not in effect then.

''Hopefully it will help other families in the future if they have to go through this,'' Meyer said.

The bill passed the House 37-0. It now goes to the Senate.



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