For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - State Rep. Ken Fredette has proposed legislation that would toughen penalties for people who provide alcoholic beverages to underage individuals. The bill calls for a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence for a third offense and subsequent offenses.
"Underage drinking is a serious problem in Maine, costing more than $230 million a year in violence, auto accidents, property crime, injuries and other expenses," said Rep. Fredette (R-Newport), an attorney and first-term legislator. "Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than people who begin drinking at 21.
"Underage drinking is widespread here," he said, "involving about 40 percent of high schoolers. In 2007, underage drinking led to nine traffic fatalities and 300 nonfatal traffic injuries. This bill is a commonsense solution for repeat offenders."
Rep. Fredette's bill deals with anyone who "procures or in any way may aid or assist in procuring, furnish, give, sell or deliver liquor for or to a minor." Under the Maine code dealing with alcohol infractions, a "minor" is anyone under age 21, but the bill reserves the incarceration sanctions for those who provide alcohol to anyone less than 18 years of age.
Under current law, it is a Class D crime, punishable by a fine of at least $500, to supply alcohol to anyone under 18. A second conviction for the same offense within a six-year period brings a fine of not less than $1,000.
It is on a third conviction that jail time comes into play. Under the bill's language, the penalty would consist of a fine of not less than $1,500 and "a period of imprisonment of not less than 48 hours."
"I want the mandatory jail time to send a message that the Maine Legislature believes that these actions are not acceptable," Rep. Fredette said. "After the first conviction, most people will understand that this is a serious crime. This law would target repeat offenders who need a stiffer sanction."
The bill, An Act to Establish a Minimum Mandatory Sentence for Conviction of Illegally Providing Liquor to a Minor, does not yet have a Legislative Document number. ###
Maine House Republicans
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