Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/13/2004 03:25 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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.                                                                         

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