Lawmaker seeks tougher sentences for giving liquor to minors

6:16 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - A tragic accident that killed two teenagers is making the Legislature look at tougher penalties for adults who provide liquor to minors. 

The accident happened in January of last year in West Paris. Investigators said the 18-year old driver in the case, Kristina Lowe, had been drinking and was texting while driving. She lost control and went off the road.  Investigators said Lowe had been drinking at a party, and that adults had given her the liquor. 

Lowe has been indicted for manslaughter and OUI, and is still waiting to go on trial. She has plead not guilty. No one else has yet been charged in the case.

State Representative Jarrod Crockett (R-Bethel) says the father of one of the victims asked him to sponsor a bill to increase the penalty on adults who provide liquor to minors. 

Current law makes it a misdemeanor to provide liquor to minors or provide a place for them to consume it - unless someone is seriously hurt or killed as a result. In those cases it becomes a class C crime, punishable with up to five years in jail.  

Crockett's bill would elevate that to a Class B crime, punishable by up to ten years in jail.

Crockett told the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee his bill may need some changes, but he believes something must be done to send a tough message and discourage adults from providing liquor to minors.

However, the chairman of the state's Criminal Law Advisory Commission said that group talked about the issue last week, and is not supporting the bill. John Pelletier says the Commission members, including judges and prosecutors, have not seen any evidence that current penalties are inadequate or need to be made more severe.

District Attorney  Geoff Rushlau said the current law is very rarely used. Rushlau told NEWS CENTER its common to prosecute people for furnishing liquor as a misdemeanor, but he had not seen a case where the higher felony charge was used.


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