A proposal intended to make it harder for people who shouldn't drink to get booze got strong support Thursday night at a Town Hall meeting attended by a couple dozen people.
The measure before the Anchorage Assembly this month would require clerks at all liquor stores in town to check the IDs of all their customers, whether they look 21 years old or 91. The mandatory ID check would allow clerks to spot driver's licenses of people who have been ordered by a judge not to drink and whose licenses bear a red "No Alcohol" stripe required by a 2007 state law.
Making all customers show ID would also make it harder for homeless chronic alcoholics to buy liquor because most don't carry a form of identification, supporters of the new proposal say.
About 10 people spoke at the meeting sponsored by the Assembly's public safety committee. Several advocated even stronger tools for keeping problem drunks sober.
"I strongly support the efforts to card everybody in liquor stores," said Jerry George, a member of the state Highway Safety Planning Commission who said lawmakers should go even further.
New ankle bracelet technology can sniff out booze and alert authorities when the wearer drinks, George said, and state or city lawmakers should pass laws allowing judges to impose that restriction too.
"Every eight days we kill somebody in Alaska ... because of alcohol," he said.
Anything that will make it harder for people to slide behind the wheel while drunk is a good idea, said Jeeni Jurvig.
Mike Carpenter said the state should require people to get and show licenses in order to buy liquor. If they abuse alcohol, that license could be taken away, he said.
But William Harrington called the idea "wrong-headed government." Passing a law that affects the law-abiding 98 percent to catch the 2 percent who are problem drinkers would be a poor policy, he said.
The Northeast Community Council, which represents Muldoon neighborhoods, introduced the idea of carding everyone to the Assembly last fall, as the panel considered a liquor license application for a new Brown Jug store in the Tikahtnu Commons center. In December, the Assembly voted 8-3 to impose the check-all-IDs requirement on that store, but several members said it was unfair to single out one store and took up the question of whether the mandatory checks should apply to all package liquor stores.
Two of the community council's officers said Thursday night that chronic inebriates are causing dangerous problems in their neighborhood.
"We started the ... idea of carding everyone after there was a murder in (Centennial) park," said Stuart Grenier, the council's vice president.
The idea also came to the Assembly at about the same time a repeat DUI offender violated a judge's orders not to drink and killed another driver in a South Anchorage wreck.
Opponents, including Brown Jug, say the proposal would be ineffective and could open store owners to potential lawsuits if clerks fail to spot fake IDs or licenses, or forget to check someone who later causes a car wreck or other problems. The store's director of sales and marketing, Bob Klein, said in an interview earlier Thursday that people addicted to alcohol will find a way around the ID strategy.
People whose Alaska licenses bear the red stripe could show military IDs or passports, Klein said, or even get a driver's license from another state.
"Alcoholics will find a way to drink," he said. "None of the stuff they're suggesting would have stopped" Lori Phillips, the driver charged with second-degree murder in the November drunken-driving death.
The Assembly has scheduled a public hearing on the mandatory ID proposal on Jan. 19.