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Governor Signs Crime Bills at State Crime Lab


June 30, 2004

Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Frank Murkowski on Tuesday signed a package of nine crime bills, designed to help law enforcement agencies fight crime more effectively.

HB 309, sponsored by Kenai Rep. Kelly Wolf, creates a new crime for persons who knowingly release, transport, possess, import or export for the purpose of release into state waters live non-indigenous fish or fish eggs.

The bill also clearly directs the courts that they can consider consecutive sentencing for most serious felony crimes. However, for homicides, kidnapping, and serious sex offenses, there is a minimum amount of consecutive time that must be imposed. For example, for two counts of first degree murder, the court must require the mandatory minimum term of the second offense to be served consecutively. For manslaughter and kidnapping, at least the period of the presumptive term of the second offense must be served consecutively.

HB 340, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Kevin Meyer, makes changes that increase the penalty for offenders who repeatedly exploit children or repeatedly distribute child pornography. The penalty for unlawful exploitation of a minor is increased to a Class A felony for a person who has been previously convicted of this crime. The penalty for distribution of child pornography is increased to a Class A felony for a person has been previously convicted of this crime.

HB 342, sponsored by Palmer Rep. Carl Gatto, makes three main changes to the driving while intoxicated laws. The first allows more defendants to qualify as a first offender of DWI laws by changing the definition of "previously convicted" to only include previous convictions for drunk driving within the last 15 years. Second, for persons who are considered "repeat offenders" the bill allows them to get their driver's licenses back for work purposes sooner than presently allowed. To get a limited work purpose license, the offender must complete an 18-month treatment program or use an ignition interlock device. The bill also requires drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices for differing lengths of time, depending on their blood alcohol content.

HB 381, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Lesil McGuire, makes it a separate Class A misdemeanor crime to transport a child in a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A "child" is intended to cover a person 18 years of age or younger.

HB 428, also sponsored by Rep. Meyer, relates to the civil liability of a person who obtains alcohol for a minor. Under the bill, an adult who orders or receives alcohol for the purpose of selling, giving, or serving it to a person under the age of 21 years, can be civilly liable to the bar or package store owner or licensee for a penalty of $1,000.
The parent or legal guardian of a minor who solicits an adult to violate the law can be civilly liable for a penalty of $1,000 to the bar or package store owner or licensee from which the alcohol was purchased, ordered, or received.

HB 490, introduced by the governor, would give law enforcement another tool to investigate and prosecute criminal cases. Specifically, an exemption is created to the current prohibition on release of unemployment records. The exemption would allow the release of records when they are needed for law enforcement purposes, including criminal investigation or prosecution. The U.S. Department of Labor has reviewed and approved the change. In addition, the bill makes a number of changes to update and bring Alaska's state unemployment laws into compliance with federal law.

HB 534, sponsored by request of the Legislative Budget and Audit committee, makes permanent the Office of Victims' Rights by repealing the scheduled 2006 termination date.

SB 224, sponsored by Anchorage Senator John Cowdery, increases current penalties for a minor who operates a vehicle after consuming alcohol. Current law prohibits a person between 14 and 21 years of age from:

  • operating a vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft after consuming any alcohol, even if the person is not impaired;
  • refusal to submit to a breath test; and
  • operating a vehicle within 24 hours of being cited for driving after consuming alcohol or refusal to submit to a breath test.

Violation of any of three zero tolerance provisions of the bill is an infraction with a maximum fine of $1,000, community work service, or both. The community work service must, if available, be related to education about, prevention of, or treatment for the misuse of alcohol.

SB 170, introduced by the governor, is the governor's crime bill. It makes several changes to different areas of criminal laws and procedures. Major provisions in the bill relate to local options and bootlegging:

  • Allows municipalities and villages to exercise a "local option" and lower the amount of alcohol an individual can possess before triggering a presumption the alcohol is possessed for sale.
  • Allows municipalities and villages to exercise a "local option" and lower the amount of alcohol per month a package store can ship to residents.
  • Allows forfeiture of cash and other "negotiable instruments" used in bootlegging.
  • Mandates forfeiture of an "aircraft, vehicle, or watercraft" when used for bootlegging. (Subject to certain conditions)
  • Clarifies the jurisdiction and criminal sanctions that apply when two local option areas overlap. Current law requires that a local option area only apply within the center of a village if two local option areas overlap. The remainder of the local option area becomes out of bounds, which could permit an individual to drive up to the edge of a village and sell alcohol. The new law would apply to the overlap area.
  • Allows municipalities and villages the option of increasing the penalty for providing alcohol to minors to a felony from a misdemeanor.

The bill also toughens laws against juvenile sex offenders:

  • By making it a felony for a juvenile under 16 years of age to engage in sexual penetration with a minor who is 13 years old or younger.
  • By making it a Class A misdemeanor for a juvenile under 16 years of age to have "sexual contact" with a minor who is 13 years old or younger.

The bill also toughens laws on third party custodians who violate their duties regarding a person in their custody.

The bill prohibits the use of self-defense by individuals who come armed to a felony drug deal or while engaging in felony gang activity.

The bill also eliminates the "big gulp" loophole in the DWI laws. Currently, defendants who are arrested and fail a breathalyzer can claim they took a big gulp of alcohol just before driving and their blood alcohol content was not over the legal limit while driving, but only after they were driving, when they took the breathalyzer test.


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site



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