Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/13/2004 03:25 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 342 An Act relating to driving while intoxicated; and providing for an effective date. CODY RICE, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE CARL GATTO, spoke to CS HB 342 (JUD). He noted that the legislation would make several changes to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) law. The bill would set out a tiered fine schedule increasing fines and would add other sanctions, in particular the ignition interlock device. The bill clarifies that the ignition interlock could only be Court-ordered as part of the offenders sentence for vehicles driven on roadways and requiring a license. Mr. Rice pointed out that fines would be increased for those offenders who have between 0.16 and 0.24 blood alcohol content (BAC); establishing an additional increase for offenders with a 0.24 or higher BAC. It would also add the ignition interlock for six months. He continued, HB 342 contains provisions for limited licensing under certain circumstances for misdemenor offenders receiving licenses under certain situations. Representative Chenault asked the costs associated with the interlocks and installation. Mr. Rice responded that the quoted prices range around $3 dollars a day. He added that in current State law, a provision does exist which allows ignition interlocks to be subtracted from the fines. Representative Stoltze remembered that in 1989, the Legislature passed another interlock device legislation. The language was permissive and many concerns had been voiced regarding the technology of those devices and asked if it had been implemented. Mr. Rice replied that it had been attempted in Anchorage; however, judges were hesitant to apply the ignition locks until they saw sufficient success. Mr. Rice pointed out that ignition interlocks are used worldwide despite weather conditions. Representative Chenault asked if snow machines would be exempt. Mr. Rice replied that snow machines, off road vehicles and vehicles not intended to be driven on highways would be exempt from requirements for ignition interlocks. Representative Croft understood that the legislation would remove the discretion for those offenders registering twice over the legal limit. Mr. Rice acknowledged that was correct and would be required for offenders wanting to get their limited license back. Under the bill, offenders convicted of multiple misdemeanors who want to receive a limited license, would be required to use ignition interlock as well as those with double or triple offenses. Representative Rokeberg responded. [In audible - tape malfunction]. REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG spoke to work draft, #23- LS1292\S, Luckhaupt, 4/9/04. (Copy on File). He stated that the draft was similar to Representative Gatto's bill and that he hoped the efficiency and activity of the two bills could blend together. Representative Rokeberg pointed out that HB 175 has a House Judiciary Committee referral. He mentioned that there are statewide witnesses on-line that want to testify on the bill before consideration of marrying the two is discussed. Representative Rokeberg referenced Page 4, Section 3, stating that it would add the provision for limited licensure for those people under that jurisdiction and who successfully completed a wellness profile for a limited license and would qualify people in that program. [In audible]. Representative Rokeberg noted that Page 7, Section 7, would provide the same benefit to those under the jurisdiction of the therapeutic court to provide [in audible] successfully completing the program. The idea is that it would give judges working under the therapeutic court model, the right to limited licensure. Representative Rokeberg noted in HB 4 passed in 2002, the Legislature spoke strongly about raising the DUI fines from $500 to $1500 dollars. He thought that there had been an oversight in that legislation, which allowed judges to suspend a portion of the fine. A judge could be preempted. There can be delays, which tend to happen. The courts do have the authority and discretion to lower the fine below that level. Section 3, Lines 12-22, changes the minimum fine language. Section 4 supplies the same language for the felony provisions in law. Representative Rokeberg noted the final change in Section 5, Page 6, Line 10, which provides the definition of a previous conviction and provides a five-year look-back. HB 4 implements a ten-year look-back phased in with a 10-year window for Class C felonies. He pointed out that was the legislative intent for HB 4. Representative Rokeberg noted that the House Judiciary Committee had focused on the felony aspect. Representative Rokeberg directed the Committee's attention to language on Page 4. He spoke about the need for compassion for these offenders. The fines and levels of incarceration have been raised significantly. He mentioned offenders who have a substantial period of time between their DUI occurrences, pointing out that patterns and lifestyles can change tremendously during a 15-year look- back period. The work draft provides that person a second chance and their other offenses would have had to occur outside of that 15-year window. Representative Rokeberg voiced his appreciation for the consideration of the draft and requested the process be expedited. Co-Chair Harris asked which Committee the bill that Representative Rokeberg was attempting to place into HB 342 was currently located. Representative Rokeberg stated that it is currently in the House Judiciary Committee and also before the House Finance Committee in the draft "S" version of HB 342. Co-Chair Harris asked if Representative Rokeberg's was concerned that his bill would not move from the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Rokeberg responded that Committee is "bogged down" and he thought that it would be more efficient to accomplish his intent in the proposed manner. Co-Chair Harris questioned if there were legal rules regarding such action, understanding that there is nothing that cannot be changed. WILLIAM SATTERBERG, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), ATTORNEY, FAIRBANKS, testified that the bill has some good attributes. He made recommendations, which he believed would make the legislation more helpful. Mr. Satterberg agreed with Representative Rokeberg's discussion. He elaborated that one of his clients, 67 years old, had a DUI over thirty years ago, receiving another in 2002 and as a consequence of that, spent 60-days in jail. He presently is looking at a hefty fine and a three-year loss of license. Mr. Satterberg testified that the concept of the look-back provision would be admirable, and agreed with Representative Rokeberg that it had probably been an oversight. Mr. Satterberg requested that the Committee make a retroactive provision for those people caught in the interim period. The active date in statute is January 1, 2005. He recommended that it should be moved up to July 1, 2004. Those fines disappear into a "black hole" of the general fund. He strongly urged that the mandatory fines be used for rehabilitation purposes. RALPH FULLER, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), MATSU, elaborated on a DUI he received thirty years ago, with another four years ago and now a recent one. He lost his license for three years, which has been very difficult since st he is self-employed. He requested that the July 1 date be added to the bill as it would help offenders get back to a productive life. ISRAEL NELSON, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), MATSU, voiced support for the bill as it would further impede people from using their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. He urged that the fines be used for treatment of those people. JANET MCCABE, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), PARTNERS FOR PROGRESS, ANCHORAGE, voiced support for the work draft version "S". She noted that Partners for Progress is a non- profit group that supports development of therapeutic courts throughout the State. She commented that limited licensures would encourage the stop action of repeat offenses, emphasizing that these programs work. She stressed that therapeutic courts are three times more effective for stopping alcoholic crimes and are far less expensive than incarceration. Ms. McCabe supported the idea of a limited licensing. CINDY CASHEN, MOTHER'S AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING (MADD), JUNEAU, testified that MADD supports both pieces of legislation. MADD supports measures that would enhance or escalate penalties for drivers convicted DUI with blood alcohol content at the time of arrest at least double or higher. She pointed out that over 13,000 people were killed in alcohol related accidents last year. In over half of those crashes, the driver had an alcohol level of over 0.15. At that range, the driver is 384 times more likely to get into a fatal crash than a driver that has had nothing to drink. Additionally, one-third of those arrested for DUI, have had a previous DUI. In 2001, in Alaska, there was a total of 4,918 people arrested for drunk driving. Of that number, over 1,800 were repeat offenders. In 2000, over 1,400 were repeat offenders. Ms. Cashen pointed out that these numbers are high, advising that the ignition interlock works. Studies have proven that there could be up a 50%-90% reduction on offenders fined and that have the device in place as compared to those who do not. Ms. Cashen pointed out that MADD supports wellness and therapeutic courts and anything else that would help encourage an 18-month program. She addressed the look-back concept, pointing out that those with their first DWI thirty-years ago and receiving another and then another; that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Board, the average amount of time that it takes to get caught for drunk driving is around ten years. She urged that the look- back stay at a minimum of fifteen years. HB 342 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.