Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/20/2004 01:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 342-INCREASE DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE PENALTY                                                                             
Number 0029                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL   NO.  342,  "An   Act  relating  to   driving  while                                                               
intoxicated; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CARL  GATTO, Alaska State Legislature,  sponsor of                                                               
HB 342,  suggested the committee  adopt the  committee substitute                                                               
(CS), Version D, as the working document.                                                                                       
The committee took an at-ease from 2:47 to 2:50.                                                                                
TAPE 04-20, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  restated that  HB 342, Version  D, was  before the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said  he  had two  witnesses  online,  Dr.                                                               
Marples, an  expert on  ignition interlock,  and Dr.  Marques who                                                               
has done research on the same subject.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO explained  changes to the bill.   For levels                                                               
of  intoxication that  are  greater than  twice  the lower  legal                                                               
limit, and up  to three times the [legal] limit  [.16 - .24], the                                                               
fines have been doubled, and  a requirement of having an ignition                                                               
interlock  on a  vehicle  for six  months has  been  added.   The                                                               
alcohol  level is  greater  than tripled  [.24  or greater],  the                                                               
fines  have  been tripled,  and  a  one-year requirement  of  the                                                               
interlock system  has been  added, he explained.   He  said those                                                               
changes were a decrease from the previous version [of the bill].                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  reported that  after many  discussions with                                                               
the National Transportation  Safety Board, the bill  is trying to                                                               
follow recommendations that  work to reduce the  number of drunks                                                               
on the road.  The goal  is to remove the most egregious offenders                                                               
responsible for the most accidents  from the roads.  Drivers with                                                               
double the legal limit of  alcohol are responsible for 50 percent                                                               
of fatalities, he said.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  explained  that  the  [ignition  interlock                                                               
device] is a significant part of the bill.                                                                                      
Number 0208                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  asked if  there is a  penalty for  .08 to                                                               
.16 [percent by  weight of alcohol in the person's  blood] on the                                                               
first offense.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO replied that the  bill has no affect on that                                                               
level and the consequences remain unchanged.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS asked when  [this proposed law], using the                                                               
sliding scale, would take affect.                                                                                               
CODY RICE,  Staff to Representative Gatto,  responded, "This bill                                                               
doesn't make distinctions based  on first, second, third, fourth,                                                               
or tenth offense.  This bill  solely makes a distinction based on                                                               
your breath or blood alcohol content."   He continued to say that                                                               
.16  to  .24  is  double  the  fines  and  a  six-month  ignition                                                               
interlock;  .24 and  above is  triple  the fines  and a  one-year                                                               
ignition interlock.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  repeated his  question, "From .08  to .16                                                               
you're doing nothing?"                                                                                                          
MR. RICE nodded the affirmative.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS mentioned the  interlock device and asked,                                                               
"What good  does it  do to  take the  driver's license  away when                                                               
they're not driving their own car, anyway."                                                                                     
Number 0317                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  REPRESENTATIVE moved  to adopt  CSHB 342,                                                               
labeled 23-LS1292\D,  as the  working document.   There  being no                                                               
objection, Version D was before the committee.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO explained that from  zero to .08 there is no                                                               
fine,  but  the existing  structure  is  maintained.   This  bill                                                               
addresses "level 2 and level 3."                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he is having a  hard time understanding                                                               
the  current  fine  structure  and  the  recent  increases.    He                                                               
requested more information.                                                                                                     
MR. RICE  referred Representative Gara  to the bill, pages  1, 2,                                                               
and 3, and read the penalties in current statutes.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG asked  what the  maximum fine  is under  [the                                                               
current statutes].                                                                                                              
MR. RICE said he thinks that is up to judicial discretion.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he thinks there is a maximum  fine.  He                                                               
added that  he thinks  the bill  stated the  minimum, but  that a                                                               
maximum does exist.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  said the  new language  says the  maximums no                                                               
longer apply.                                                                                                                   
Number 0526                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Representative  Gatto why there is                                                               
an effective date of July 1, 2004.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO replied  he thinks  it has  to do  with the                                                               
ability to  implement the  device.  There  is currently  only one                                                               
distributor in  the state  who can install  the device,  and more                                                               
time is needed to implement the law.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  that, since  the  bill  was                                                               
introduced last year, the date  should actually be for next year,                                                               
2005.   He noted, for  the record, that he  is the author  of the                                                               
ignition interlock  law.  He  said it has been  difficult getting                                                               
the  bill  implemented,  since  it  passed in  1988.    He  spoke                                                               
strongly in favor of the bill.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG  asked if  clarity  is  needed regarding  the                                                               
requirement [of when] to use  the interlock device.  He suggested                                                               
adding, "upon return of the driving privileges".                                                                                
[CHAIR McGUIRE  turned the gavel  over to  Representative Samuels                                                               
and left the room.]                                                                                                             
Number 0711                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO replied that he  could accept that idea, but                                                               
suggested a "weaning off" of the device might work, also.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  suggested that  people should use  the device                                                               
for six months after getting their driving privileges back.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he could accept that.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS [acting  as  chair] said  he has  several                                                               
questions about the interlock.  He asked whose car it goes on.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG suggested  that  the people  testifying                                                               
might be able to answer those questions.                                                                                        
Number 0814                                                                                                                     
DAVID REINEKE,  Attorney, Public  Defender Agency,  Department of                                                               
Administration, said  he was  asked to give  a rough  overview of                                                               
the  increases  in  financial  penalties   [in  the  bill].    He                                                               
explained that the state felony DWI  law was adopted in 1996, and                                                               
in 2001  there was a reduction  in blood alcohol content  from .1                                                               
to .08.   He said  the "look  back period" for  determining prior                                                               
offenses  was increased  from  5 years  to 10  years.   In  2002,                                                               
financial   penalties  were   increased,   a  mandatory   vehicle                                                               
forfeiture  for felony  DUI and  refusal  [was implemented],  and                                                               
there  was   an  increase  in  the   presumptive  sentencing  for                                                               
manslaughter  DUI  from  5  years   to  7  years.    The  license                                                               
reinstatement  fee  was doubled  for  repeat  offenders, and  the                                                               
mandatory minimum fine  for a first offense was  raised from $250                                                               
to $1,500.                                                                                                                      
[Representative Samuels returned the gavel to Chair McGuire.]                                                                   
Number 0928                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  for clarification  because he  missed                                                               
most of Mr. Reineke's testimony.                                                                                                
MR. REINEKE repeated  his testimony for Representative  Gara.  He                                                               
continued  with new  information: The  fine for  second offenders                                                               
went from $500  to $3,000 and the felony DUI  went from $5,000 to                                                               
Number 1020                                                                                                                     
MR. REINEKE  followed up on  the question about maximum  fines by                                                               
referring  to  AS  12.55.035,  which sets  forth  fines  for  all                                                               
criminal offenses.  For Class  A misdemeanors, which include most                                                               
first and  second DUI's, the  maximum fine currently  is $10,000.                                                               
A felony  DUI, generally,  is a  Class C  felony and  the maximum                                                               
fine  is  $50,000.    In  2002,  the  license  revocation  period                                                               
increased to "permanently" for felony  DUI's, and loss of vehicle                                                               
registration for  any vehicle registered  to a  defendant charged                                                               
was implemented.   A $2,000 increase in the  cost of imprisonment                                                               
also came  into effect in  2002.  He said  he wasn't sure  if the                                                               
PFD revocation happened during 2002,  but that currently for many                                                               
offenses, especially felonies, the PFD  is revoked.  He concluded                                                               
by saying  that those  changes are  a rough  summary of  what has                                                               
happened  in  the  last  several years  to  increased  fines  and                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS asked  if the  per capita  rates for  DWI                                                               
have gone down.                                                                                                                 
MR.REINEKE said he is not familiar with the rates of arrest.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  wondered   if  [the  tougher  penalties]                                                               
MR. REINEKE said it is a question he is not prepared to answer.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he has  read an  article about  a                                                               
problem that  has risen in  other states, where people  are using                                                               
devices to  obtain false readings  from urine samples.   He asked                                                               
if that is a crime.                                                                                                             
MR. REINEKE said he believes it  is a crime, but couldn't give it                                                               
a title.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he  has heard  it  being done  in                                                               
paternity cases, as well.                                                                                                       
MR. REINEKE said he has heard of it happening, also.                                                                            
Number 1258                                                                                                                     
IAN   MARPLES,   Director,   Interlock   Division   for   Alcohol                                                               
Countermeasure Systems,  said his  company has  received approval                                                               
for the use  of the WR2 ignition interlock device  in Alaska, and                                                               
he  has been  trying  for the  past five  years  to implement  an                                                               
ignition interlock program.  He said  the reality is that the use                                                               
of  such devices  is up  to judicial  discretion, and  judges are                                                               
reluctant to be pioneers in this area.                                                                                          
MR.  MARPLES indicated  there is  growing evidence  that ignition                                                               
interlocks  are  very  effective   in  separating  drinkers  from                                                               
driving.    He  cited  studies  from the  1980's  that  show  the                                                               
effectiveness  of  preventing  repeat   DWI  behavior  while  the                                                               
interlock  device is  installed  in the  vehicle.   He  suggested                                                               
mandating the use  of these devices so that the  burden is not on                                                               
the courts.                                                                                                                     
Number 1373                                                                                                                     
MR. MARPLES  pointed out  that Florida  has a  mandatory ignition                                                               
interlock program  for all repeat  offenders and for  some first-                                                               
time offenders in cases where  there are aggravated circumstances                                                               
such as  a high blood  alcohol level, or if  there is a  minor in                                                               
the  car at  the time  of the  offense.   Judges are  required to                                                               
order  interlocks,  and  the  offender  must  participate  in  an                                                               
interlock program in order to reinstate their licenses.                                                                         
MR.  MARPLES  emphasized  the  need  to couple  the  use  of  the                                                               
interlock  device with  an effective  program  of monitoring  and                                                               
supervision.   He  opined that  [such  a program]  could best  be                                                               
accomplished   by   [Department    of   Motor   Vehicles   (DMV)]                                                               
administration,  rather than  by  the courts,  because  DMV is  a                                                               
state  authority that  typically handles  traffic safety  issues,                                                               
and  could  deal  with non-compliance  quicker  than  the  courts                                                               
could.  There  would also be an advantage  of uniform application                                                               
across the jurisdiction, he added.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said, in the 1980s,  sixteen states had                                                               
ignition interlock  laws in place,  and there was only  one known                                                               
case of recidivism.   He recalled that  then-Senator Coghill from                                                               
Fairbanks added an amendment so  that the device would be checked                                                               
out for very cold  weather.  He said the reason  he did not press                                                               
the  court to  implement [the  device] in  Anchorage was  because                                                               
there was  no company there  to install it.   He offered  to work                                                               
with  the bill's  sponsor and  Mr. Reineke  to see  how the  bill                                                               
could be implemented,  and he restated strong  feelings about the                                                               
positive aspects of the device.                                                                                                 
Number 1570                                                                                                                     
MR. MARPLES made reference to the  cold weather issue.  He stated                                                               
that  the  WR2  interlock  device is  specifically  designed  for                                                               
extremely cold weather, meets all  standards, world-wide, and has                                                               
been  used  in northern  Alberta  since  1984.    He said  it  is                                                               
currently being used in the Yukon Territory.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS asked  how  other  states designate  [the                                                               
requirement  to use  the ignition  interlock device]  on drivers'                                                               
licenses.  He asked if it needs to be done in statute.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   asked   a  question   that   former-                                                               
Representative Smith previously had asked.   "What kind of volume                                                               
would  there  have  to  be  in a  given  location  to  make  this                                                               
economically viable?"                                                                                                           
MR. MARPLES replied  that he is more concerned  about providing a                                                               
service than making  money in Alaska.  He said  he makes money in                                                               
other heavily  populated states.   He  said there  needs to  be a                                                               
level  of use  that  enables the  people  delivering the  program                                                               
services to keep their skills  up, somewhere around 30-50 devices                                                               
installed and serviced in a particular interlock facility.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  if the  level of  use for  30-50                                                               
devices would be on a continuous basis.                                                                                         
MR. MARPLES said that is correct.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he has heard  of zebra-striped stickers                                                               
that go  on the license plates  of offenders.  He  said there are                                                               
"scarlet letters"  that can be  associated with the vehicle.   He                                                               
wondered about the success of such [markers].                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS asked,  if the bill were to  pass, how the                                                               
implementation would work.  "Something from DMV?"                                                                               
Number 1740                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he believes the  court would issue                                                               
a limited  license and it  would be  a violation of  probation to                                                               
drive without it.   If someone manipulates the  device and allows                                                               
the person to use  the car, that would also be  a crime, he said.                                                               
He asked Mr. Marples what the cost would be to the offender.                                                                    
MR.  MARPLES answered  that the  cost to  install the  device and                                                               
train  a new  user is  about $120-$125,  and the  procedure takes                                                               
about two hours.   He said installation is  a complicated process                                                               
to prevent the device from being tampered with.                                                                                 
Number 1819                                                                                                                     
MR.  MARPLES explained  that the  cost to  the offender  would be                                                               
about $3 a day, or roughly the price  of a drink a day.  The fail                                                               
level  on the  interlock device  is well  below the  legal limit.                                                               
The  most effective  programs are  those that  operate on  a zero                                                               
tolerance basis, he opined.  The  message is, "If you're going to                                                               
be drinking,  that's your  business, but  don't even  think about                                                               
driving."  He said the intent  [of the program] is to get people,                                                               
over time, to separate [drinking and driving].                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said,  when   the  original  bill  was                                                               
passed, he was told it would cost  around $700 per year.  The law                                                               
currently  says,  in the  case  of  financial need,  rather  than                                                               
paying the fine,  the money can go toward  installing the device.                                                               
He said  he has  heard recently  that the  cost would  be $2,000-                                                               
$3,000  per  year.   Using  $3  per  day  times 365,  plus  $125,                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg figured  the cost  would be  $1,220 and                                                               
wondered if his estimation is accurate.                                                                                         
MR. MARPLES replied that it is.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked if Mr.  Marples knew what the  cost of                                                               
the program would be in various regions of Alaska.                                                                              
MR. MARPLES asked if Representative Gara means cost of living.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he means  the cost of  implementing the                                                               
interlock system to a defendant in Alaska.                                                                                      
MR. MARPLES mentioned  that his company has been  trying for five                                                               
years  to   implement  an  interlock  program   in  Alaska  under                                                               
discretionary legislation.   He said the fee schedule  is in line                                                               
with the  remarks he has  just made,  rather than the  myths that                                                               
are "out  there."  He  said the  fee schedule would  apply across                                                               
the jurisdiction.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  if Mr.  Marples had  [implemented the                                                               
program] in any of the rural communities in Alaska.                                                                             
MR. MARPLES  said that  the challenges in  Alaska are  similar to                                                               
those in  rural Canada  and in the  Australian outback  where his                                                               
company has  operations.   He says  his company  is able  to work                                                               
creatively to cover those areas.                                                                                                
Number 1994                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked what could  be done for extremely rural                                                               
areas such as Good News Bay.                                                                                                    
MR. MARPLES  suggested that  [people] might  have to  travel some                                                               
distance  to have  the device  installed and  to be  trained, but                                                               
that  the on-going  monitoring and  compliance  reports could  be                                                               
done closer to home or done by mail.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he is in favor of  making the interlock                                                               
provision   mandatory,  but   feels  there   needs  to   be  more                                                               
information  about how  practical  [the device]  is  and what  is                                                               
keeping the court system from authorizing  it now.  He said he is                                                               
more interested in  this provision of the bill than  in the large                                                               
increases in fines.                                                                                                             
Number 2060                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE said that HB 342 would  be held over.  She said she                                                               
wants more  information about an  "escape valve" for  rural areas                                                               
and wants to know the number of DUI's in rural areas.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARA suggested alternatives for rural areas.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  that  rural areas  would be  more                                                               
difficult.  He said he would like to see snow machines included.                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  said she thinks  [the bill] is directed  mainly at                                                               
urban areas and she suggested trying a pilot program.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he thinks someone  is piloting the                                                               
program in Juneau.                                                                                                              
MR. MARPLES said there was no  demand in Juneau and only one unit                                                               
was sold, but there is  a service provider in Anchorage; however,                                                               
the judges would not "make interlock orders."                                                                                   
Number 2158                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE thanked Mr. Marples for his participation.                                                                        
[HB 342 was held over.]                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects