Ordinance would ban booze for 'chronic inebriates'

Businesses, authorities to keep confidential list of repeat offenders

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FAIRBANKS - The Fairbanks City Council will consider a ban on the sale of alcohol to "chronic inebriates."

The proposed law also would prohibit "proxy buying" - purchasing alcohol and giving it to a chronic inebriate.

The measure has been discussed for a year by city officials, police, city attorney Herb Kuss and former District Attorney Harry Davis, plus alcohol vendors and members of a Public Safety Commission and Alcohol Impact Committee.

"We've treaded lightly and we're just trying to address the issue and give a little more force to address the alcohol problem in the city of Fairbanks," said Councilman Bernard Gatewood.

Gatewood will introduce the ordinance Aug. 6 for a second reading.

The proposal targets liquor establishments and could include fines as high as $300. Liquor licenses also could be questioned if establishments violate the ordinance.

Liquor stores already are prohibited from selling alcohol to someone who appears intoxicated. Charlene Krauss, manager of Gavora Liquor and Fine Wines, said she understood why the ordinance is a necessary.

"For the most part I agree with it 100 percent," Krauss said, adding that it would require a system in which clerks know who could not buy alcohol.

"We have to have information about who they are because we have no way of telling who is a chronic inebriate and who isn't," she said.

Under the ordinance, the Fairbanks Police Department would maintain a list of names of chronic inebriates in a confidential binder. The list would be reserved for repeat offenders who meet specific criteria.

The Fairbanks chief of police would have the authority to place a person on the list if the person was under Title 47 protective custody - usually a sleep-off cell - at the Fairbanks Correctional Center two or more times within a six-month period.

Someone also could be placed on the list if the person had violated open-container or drinking in public prohibitions three or more times within a six-month period.

Businesses selling alcohol would have a confidential copy of those who are prohibited from buying alcohol.

"In trying to keep this law as fair and equitable as possible, this is what has evolved," Gatewood said. "We recognize that chronic inebriates have rights, too, which is one of the reasons why drafting this ordinance has taken so long."

If the council approves the ordinance in August, an appeal process would be established for anyone who wants to get off the list.

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