Teen drivers curbed for underage drinking in Arkansas

| Friday, April 22, 2005

A new law in Arkansas will have minors facing more than just a fine when they’re caught with alcohol – they lose their privilege to drive, also.

Gov. Mike Huckabee signed into law Act 1535, which suspends the licenses of drivers under the age of 21 who purchase or possess alcohol. First offenders will have their licenses suspended for 60 days; second offenders for 120 days; and third and subsequent offenders for one year. Violators will also see an increased fine, ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the number of offenses.

The act’s sponsors, Rep. Johnny Key and Sen. Shawn Womack, both Republicans from Mountain Home, told The Arkansas Traveler that the bill resulted from three alcohol-related fatalities of minors in Baxter country last year.

“Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy, and in this case a series of tragedies, to get lawmakers to wake up and realize that maybe the status quo isn’t good enough and must be changed,” Key said.

The act was one in a series of measures designed to curb underage drinking. The legislature also put forth Act 1976, which allows liquor store personnel to detain customers who use fake I.D.’s to purchase alcohol until authorities arrive, and Act 1767, which would make it a Class A misdemeanor for providing minors with alcohol. The punishment would include a $500 fine and up to 10 days in jail time.

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