JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his.
Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket, which was issued in August, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat, said the beer was his.
Revak, an Anchorage Republican, said he used alcohol heavily after returning injured from the Iraq War but hasn’t had alcohol in seven years.
He has helped others in recovery programs and said he is proud of his sobriety.
A citation “could cause harm to me because I’m in programs of recovery. I’ve been in recovery a long time trying to help other people. Having a violation like this might discredit me, and especially in my job, it certainly doesn’t help, so I felt like it was kind of an injustice,” Revak said.
Kawasaki was riding with Revak from Anchorage to a fishing event on the Kenai Peninsula on Aug. 18. Kawasaki the night before had stayed at the home of another legislator and in the morning left with a partially full can of beer.
"I didn’t want to waste it, didn’t want to dump it,” Kawasaki said. Both said Revak didn’t realize it was a beer rather than another beverage.
They were pulled over when a trooper flagged Revak as driving 66 mph in a 55 mph zone.
“I tried to tell the officer, it’s my open container,” Kawasaki said. “I swear to God, (Revak’s) not a drinker. I mean, he doesn’t, he hasn’t had anything to drink in years. And I tried to tell him that, and the officer’s like, ‘Well, he still has an open container. And so it’s his responsibility.’”
Revak is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 27. But the trooper who wrote the citation was recently arrested on child sexual abuse charges. That trooper has been put on leave “pending the outcome of the criminal justice process," the Department of Public Safety said last week.
A department spokesperson said when a trooper leaves the department, a supervisor will review any open cases or investigations that person has and reassign those.
“At no point during the traffic stop did the driver identify himself as a legislator, and the Soldotna-based Troopers were not aware that he was an elected official,” department spokesperson Austin McDaniel said.
Kawasaki and Revak each said they didn’t identify themselves as legislators.
“I don’t think any legislator would ever pull that card. That’s a dumb thing to say. It’s not like we’re really loved,” Kawasaki said.
Revak was not cited for speeding. McDaniel said it's "not uncommon for a Trooper to issue only one citation during a traffic stop, and the citations issued depend on a variety of circumstances including the Troopers’ discretion.”