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Alcohol penalties may rise


By Andrea Kelly
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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PHOENIX - Those caught buying or providing alcohol for minors could face a license suspension if a bill in the Arizona Senate to change those penalties is approved.

The bill, HB2115, would add license suspension to the options a judge has when prosecuting someone convicted of buying or providing alcohol for a minor.

Yesterday, the Senate approved an amendment that would make the length of a suspended license shorter than the bill originally called for.

Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley, said she thought the sanctions for suspending licenses of people caught providing alcohol to minors was appropriate, but thought the penalty should be smaller.

The original bill called for the second offense to warrant at least a six-month suspension.

The bill now would give judges the ability to suspend the license of anyone caught buying or providing alcohol to a minor for up to 30 days. In its first version, the bill called for the license suspension for at least 30 days. A second offense would now allow a judge to suspend the person's license for up to six months.

Leff said she thought these changes "seemed more reasonable" in the scheme of the offense.

She said the bill was created to give judges more options. The law now says a person convicted of providing alcohol to minors is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for which includes up to six months in jail, fines up to $2,500 and probation for up to three years, but does not allow a judge to suspend a person's driver's license.

The bill does allow a minor to consume alcohol for a religious service or if a parent or guardian gives permission for the minor to drink in a "private residence."

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Michelle Reagan, R-Scottsdale, said earlier this session that the No. 1 source for minors obtaining alcohol was through someone older who bought it for them or gave it to them.

Reagan said the bill would be a cost-effective way to enforce the law prohibiting this because she said studies have shown that more people fear losing their license than going to jail.

The bill passed the House by a 46-8 vote March 7, but a move by Rep. Ted Downing, D-Tucson, to require keg registration failed and did not get through the House.

The Senate will most likely vote on the issue next week. If passed, the House will have to approve the amendment before it goes to Gov. Janet Napolitano to sign it into law or veto it.



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