Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/26/2004 02:18 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.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris  MOVED  to  ADOPT   Work  Draft  Version  V,                                                                   
Luckhaupt dated  4-22-04.  There  being NO OBJECTION,  it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris asked if a person  with a DUI conviction must                                                                   
install  a device [ignition  interlock]  so that the  vehicle                                                                   
will not start if the driver's breath contains alcohol.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CARL GATTO affirmed,  and explained that it is                                                                   
now virtually  impossible for a  good mechanic to  defeat the                                                                   
ignition interlock device.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris asked  if this would place in  statute that a                                                                   
person convicted  of an  alcohol-related offense  could drive                                                                   
if  he had  an  ignition  interlock  device in  his  vehicle.                                                                   
Representative  Gatto explained  that historically  penalties                                                                   
for DUI were  increased, with the State paying  for jail time                                                                   
and medical treatment.  He conducted research on  the laws in                                                                   
other states, and he asserted  that the single most effective                                                                   
way  to prevent  drunks  from driving  cars  is an  interlock                                                                   
device.  He  said  that  it had  a  good  rate  of  reduction                                                                   
although   it  didn't  eliminate   recidivism.  In   previous                                                                   
versions of the bill, the penalties were "laddered."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA WILSON,  STAFF TO  REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG,  explained                                                                   
that  the changes  made to  HB  342 dealt  with the  ignition                                                                   
interlock device,  and allowing  limited licenses  for people                                                                   
in  wellness   courts  or   therapeutic  courts,   which  are                                                                   
intensive  outpatient treatment  programs.  The  participants                                                                   
are monitored while taking Naltrexone,  which prevents people                                                                   
from consuming alcohol.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wilson informed the Committee  that the Wellness Court is                                                                   
an  18-month   program.    Upon  completion   of  it,  people                                                                   
currently  may  have  portions  of their  sentence  and  fine                                                                   
reduced, and under this bill,  could get a limited license as                                                                   
well.  It is  an effective  tool  and there  is incentive  to                                                                   
enter the  program and successfully  complete it.   She noted                                                                   
that  the  Wellness  Court  has  had  tremendous  success  in                                                                   
turning  peoples'  lives  around.   The  court  also  closely                                                                   
monitors the participants.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wilson  discussed the changes  in Version V of  the bill.                                                                   
Section  2, subsections  2  and 3  [on page  3]  refers to  a                                                                   
court-ordered treatment program  described under AS 28.35.030                                                                   
(p) and it is the Wellness Court program.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wilson  noted that Section  3, page 3, changes  the "look                                                                   
back laws" which  are currently lifetime.  The  lifetime look                                                                   
back at offenses  was intended to nab the  habitual offenders                                                                   
who  re-offended  every four  or  five years.  Currently  the                                                                   
license is  suspended for a year  and there is no  ability to                                                                   
get  a  limited  driver's  license.   For  equity,  the  bill                                                                   
excludes  offenses longer  than fifteen  years preceding  the                                                                   
date  of the  present offense,  so  that an  offender is  not                                                                   
treated  the same  as someone  with  two DUI's  within a  few                                                                   
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Wilson  explained that  Section  4  deals with  the  DUI                                                                   
courts for the  felony offender, and it allows  for a limited                                                                   
license if  the offender has  an ignition interlock  as well.                                                                   
Completion  of the  lengthy and  intensive therapeutic  court                                                                   
program  and treatment  with  Naltrexone  is  required.   Ms.                                                                   
Wilson concluded  that punishment  is not an effective  tool,                                                                   
and people must  be socially reintegrated. The  intent of the                                                                   
bill is  to assist people  with reentering society,  reaching                                                                   
sobriety and maintaining a healthy  lifestyle through finding                                                                   
steady employment.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HB  342  was   heard  and  HELD  in  Committee   for  further                                                                   
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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