Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
01/28/2010 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 194-CIVIL DAMAGES FOR ALCOHOL VIOLATIONS 9:24:13 AM CHAIR MENARD announced consideration of SB 194. SENATOR MEYER moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for SB 194, labeled 26-LS0895\R, as the working document. There being no objection, version R was before the committee. SENATOR MEYER, sponsor of SB 194, said some businesses and the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) asked that civil damages be increased from $1000 to $1500 for certain alcohol violations. They also requested, though it cannot be required, that a court be able to recommend alcohol training for the minors involved in these violations. 9:26:40 AM SENATOR MEYER said in the 1990's, Anchorage establishments, such as Brown Jug and Chilkoot Charlie's, were frustrated when nothing resulted from catching kids with fake ID's and turning them over to the Anchorage Police Department (APD). These establishments could be fined or lose their liquor license for serving minors and wanted something in place to deter kids from trying to get alcohol. In 2001, state law allowed licensees to take civil action up to $1000, but this no longer covers the costs of going through the civil action process. Senator Meyer felt that the proposed increased fee of $1500 would be a deterrent to kids trying to get alcohol. 9:29:10 AM SENATOR MEYER said several establishments have been using the civil program effectively; the Brown Jug has seized 2000 fake ID's in the last 10 years. Big establishments pursue civil damages themselves; smaller establishments go through CHARR which pursues the case for a fee. He reiterated that SB 194 is raising the civil penalty from $1000 to $1500 and also allows the option of a judge recommending the minor go to alcohol training. CHAIR MENARD began public testimony. O.C. MADDEN III, Director of Operations for Brown Jug, said he has been involved in this civil penalty process since it began in the late 90's. He reported that Brown Jug has seized 2100 ID's from minors in the last ten years or so and has been aggressively pursuing civil action against minors and adults who buy for minors. He felt the civil penalty laws were effective and had prevented a lot of tragedies but that the cost of taking civil action has gone up. 9:31:47 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked how many ID's Brown Jug seizes in a week. MR. MADDEN estimated Brown Jug seizes 150 a year which is three or more per week. SENATOR FRENCH asked if each of those seizures resulted in a civil remedy against the minor. MR. MADDEN said he first sends a letter to the minor demanding payment, and then initiates discussion with the minor and acts on a case by case basis. In some instances, no further action is needed. If there was alcohol involved or an adult buying for a minor, Brown Jug moves forward with a civil case. SENATOR FRENCH asked if SB 194 is meant to address adults buying alcohol for minors or to address fake ID's. MR. MADDEN said he thinks SB 194 addresses both situations. He referred to Section 2(a) [page 1] and believes it deals with minors who solicit adults to buy for them or adults who order or receive a beverage from a licensee for the purpose of providing to a minor. 9:34:05 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked what the connection is between adults who buy for minors and fake ID's. MR. MADDEN said there are two sections to SB 194. Section 1 deals with AS 04.16.049(e) [page 1] which is illegal entry of a licensed premises by a minor. He explained that is where fake ID comes in. SENATOR FRENCH wanted to clarify that SB 194 deals with two things: one is young people presenting false ID's and the other is adults buying alcohol for minors. MR. MADDEN clarified that SB 194 addresses three issues: fake ID's or illegal entry of a licensed premises, minors who solicit adults to buy for them and adults who order or receive a beverage from a licensee for the purpose of providing to a minor. SENATOR FRENCH asked how Mr. Madden detects adults buying for minors. MR. MADDEN said Brown Jug's trained security personnel look for profile transactions such as parking far from the front door in spite of closer spaces being available, or only one person getting out of a car with multiple passengers to come in and make a purchase. Security questions the person in the store and goes to the car and ask for ID's. 9:36:43 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked, other than seizing ID's, how many cases Brown Jug pursues of a more difficult nature, such as an adult buying for a minor. MR. MADDEN said he doesn't have any statistics but knows that Brown Jug has pursued over 100 of these more difficult cases. He explained that minors who solicit adults to buy alcohol are liable as well as the adults that order and receive alcohol for minors. Of the cases Brown Jug has pursued, a significant number of the adults involved were prior offenders, including sex offenders. 9:38:18 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked how many cases Brown Jug turns over to the police. MR. MADDEN said Brown Jug turned over all cases of adults buying for minors. Every time Brown Jug seizes an ID, they call the police and an officer will come to the store if possible. The officer can decide what, if anything, to do. Mr. Madden said civil action provides licensees with an avenue to deal with the situation directly. Sending collection letters gets parents involved and kids tell their friends that Brown Jug is after them for $1000. He said the civil penalty money gets more licensees involved in preventing alcohol sales to minors. Brown Jug uses part of the civil penalty money as a bonus for employees who helped with a case. 9:40:28 AM SENATOR MEYER clarified that SB 194 does also pertain to adults buying alcohol for minors which is a more serious offense. Kids, however sometimes get a slap on the wrist. He has witnessed Brown Jug clerks being proactive about who they sell to. 9:42:21 AM SENATOR PASKVAN asked if the definition of "premises" is intended to include any premise open to the public. MR. MADDEN believed this to be correct; it includes any event in which a minor is illegally on licensed premises. His understanding is that statute 04.16.060 [Section 2(a) page 1] also deals with fake ID's to some extent, for example a minor who orders a beer in a restaurant is soliciting an adult to provide him or her with alcohol. SENATOR PASKVAN asked if the intent is to apply to a beverage dispensary, a standard bar. MR. MADDEN said that is correct. SENATOR PASKVAN said poor enforcement against minors on licensed premises has been a problem in Alaska for decades. Civil action gives the owner of the premises the ability to take direct action. 9:44:26 AM SENATOR KOOKESH asked how staff can recognize a fake ID and asked if some ID's are sophisticated. MR. MADDEN said Brown Jug staff goes through training every 12 to 18 months. Brown Jug uses about 100 seized ID's as training material. Recent ID's are extremely sophisticated and can be obtained through the internet or from kids with card making devices. CHAIR MENARD asked how many staff Brown Jug employs. MR. MADDEN answered roughly 174. CAROL HARTMAN, Vice-president of Anchorage CHARR, spoke in favor of SB 194. She has two liquor licenses in Anchorage. Over the last two years, her security personnel have caught 23 or 24 minors attempting to gain access to her licensed premises. APD arrested the minors and she followed through with the civil penalties process, which is time and labor intensive. She explained that Anchorage CHARR will handle the process for the licensee for a small fee. She felt underage drinking in Alaska is a problem and the consequences are traumatic to their families, the public and businesses. She felt more severe penalties are needed for minors who attempt to purchase alcohol or enter a licensed premises. She explained that minors jeopardize her licenses by breaking the law and they must be held accountable for their behavior. As an owner of a liquor license, she could face a fine of $10,000, a year in jail, the closure of her establishment or the revocation of her license if she mistakenly allows a minor in her establishment. A $1500 civil penalty would be a better deterrent to minors. The courts should recommend or require that these minors complete an alcohol education class. 9:47:47 AM MS. HARTMAN said revocation of a minor's driver's license might be another good deterrent as well as stronger penalties and bigger fines for repeat offenders. SENATOR PASKVAN proposed that perhaps a licensed premise should get a credit for successfully catching a minor who was a part of a sting operation with ADP. MS. HARTMAN said the ADC board issues you a letter if you were in compliance. CHAIR MENARD opened Public Testimony. SENATOR PASKVAN asked if an exemption was needed for a minor who enters licensed premises as a part of a sting operation. Technically the owner could retain and prosecute the minor. 9:50:52 AM SENATOR MEYER thought that kids involved in a sting operation are protected and cannot be pursued criminally or civilly. SENATOR FRENCH also believed that minors involved in a sting operation are protected from civil or criminal charges. He said SB 194 goes to Judiciary next and he would to confirm this. CHRISTINA MARASIGAN, aide to Senator Meyer, believed that Senator French and Senator Meyer were correct about protection for kids in sting operations. 9:52:06 AM CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony. SENATOR PASKVAN moved to report the CS for SB 194), version R, from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSB 194(STA) moved from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee. 9:52:51 AM With no further business before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 9:52 p.m.