Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/19/2004 01:15 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 423 - TAXICAB DRIVER LIABILITY                                                                                             
Number 0823                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  423, "An Act relating to  accidents involving the                                                               
vehicle  of  a  person  under   the  influence  of  an  alcoholic                                                               
beverage; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
Number 0830                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON, sponsor,  paraphrased from the following                                                               
prepared statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                             
     House Bill 423  is a "Good Samaritan"  bill for taxicab                                                                    
     operators  who  transport  intoxicated persons  or  who                                                                    
     drive an  intoxicated person's  motor vehicle  to their                                                                    
     home   or   another   residential   location.      This                                                                    
     legislation  would create  a  deterrent  for those  who                                                                    
     might  otherwise drive  impaired if  unable to  find an                                                                    
     alternative  method  of   transportation.    It  grants                                                                    
     taxicab companies  and the person or  organization that                                                                    
     participates   in    making   arrangements    for   the                                                                    
     transportation  of the  intoxicated person  and his/her                                                                    
     vehicle legal  immunity in the  event that  an accident                                                                    
     occurs,  except  in  the case  of  recklessness,  gross                                                                    
     negligence, or intentional misconduct.                                                                                     
     There  are times  when Alaskans  find themselves  in an                                                                    
     "end of evening" dilemma -  they are over the .08 blood                                                                    
     alcohol limit and shouldn't drive,  but are worried and                                                                    
     reluctant to leave their car  unattended overnight.  HB
     423  resolves  this  dilemma   by  allowing  a  taxicab                                                                    
     operator to  drive an intoxicated  person home  while a                                                                    
     second operator follows them home in their vehicle.                                                                        
     While  annual alcohol-related  traffic fatalities  have                                                                    
     decreased by more  than 33% over the  past few decades,                                                                    
     the latest statistics show a  recent increase with more                                                                    
     than 17,400 people killed and  more than half a million                                                                    
     others injured  in alcohol-related  crashes in  2002 in                                                                    
     the United  States.   Alaska had  87 traffic  deaths of                                                                    
     which  35  were alcohol-related  (40%)  in  2002.   The                                                                    
     previous year there were 47  alcohol related deaths out                                                                    
     of the 89 deaths (53%).                                                                                                    
     In  order  for  this   program  to  be  successful  cab                                                                    
     companies  and  liquor  establishments  must  work  and                                                                    
     communicate   closely.     These  establishments   will                                                                    
     implement the following strategies and policies:                                                                           
     Place  signs  near  pay phones,  direct  lines  to  cab                                                                    
     companies  and  in  other   conspicuous  areas  of  the                                                                    
     establishment such as restrooms and near exits.                                                                            
     Train the  establishment staff  on the  availability of                                                                    
     this  program and  how to  inform patrons,  and how  to                                                                    
     implement the process.                                                                                                     
     Make  public  service  announcements (PSA)  at  closing                                                                    
     time to help influence patrons to use the program                                                                          
     Pay  a portion  of the  cab  fare cost  agreed upon  by                                                                    
     establishments and program officials                                                                                       
     Track program usage to  assess effectiveness to promote                                                                    
     and or improve the program                                                                                                 
     This  bill   passed  from   the  House   State  Affairs                                                                    
     Committee with  the understanding we would  address the                                                                    
     insurance  liability issue  prior to  a hearing  in the                                                                    
     Judiciary   committee.     The   sponsor  worked   with                                                                    
     Representative  Gruenberg and  his staff  and with  Mr.                                                                    
     Lessmeier, who  represents State Farm Insurance  and is                                                                    
     in the audience today.   You should a letter of support                                                                    
     in  your   bill  packet  from  the   Property  Casualty                                                                    
     Insurers  Association  of  America, submitted  by  John                                                                    
     George.   The committee should  have a copy of  the CS,                                                                    
     version I in your bill packet.                                                                                             
     I'll  be available  to answer  any questions  you have,                                                                    
     but  I  will  defer  any  technical  questions  on  the                                                                    
        insurance liability issue to Mr. Lessmeier, who                                                                         
     crafted the new language in the CS.                                                                                        
Number 1059                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB 423,  Version  23-LS1600\I,  Luckhaupt,                                                               
3/17/04, as the work draft.   There being no objection, Version I                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
Number 1102                                                                                                                     
MICHAEL  L.  LESSMEIER, Attorney  at  Law,  Lessmeier &  Winters;                                                               
Lobbyist for State Farm Insurance  Company ("State Farm"), stated                                                               
that he  was present to  support this legislation.   He explained                                                               
that  [State Farm]  wasn't  involved in  the  initiation of  this                                                               
concept, but  became involved  when concerns  were raised  in the                                                               
House    State   Affairs    Standing   Committee    regarding   a                                                               
[hypothetical]  situation  in  which the  driver  delivering  the                                                               
vehicle  home  runs   a  red  a  light  and   hurts  an  innocent                                                               
individual.  After working with  Representative Gruenberg and the                                                               
sponsor,  Mr.   Lessmeier  said,  it  was   determined  that  the                                                               
insurance on  the vehicle would  follow the vehicle.   Therefore,                                                               
the language  in Section 1,  subsection (a), was changed  to read                                                               
as it does in Version I.                                                                                                        
MR.  LESSMEIER recalled  that the  second concern  raised was  in                                                               
regard to  the liability of  an organization  or a person  who is                                                               
participating in  making arrangements  for the  transportation of                                                               
the vehicle who  might not hold a liquor license  or might not be                                                               
an agent  or employee of "a  person".  For example,  there was an                                                               
issue raised with  regard to what would happen  to a municipality                                                               
or an organization  such as Mothers Against  Drunk Driving (MADD)                                                               
if it  helped to arrange  a program such  as that proposed  in HB
423.  Therefore,  the language in Section 1,  subsection (b), was                                                               
changed.    He suggested  that  on  page  2,  line 12,  after  "A                                                               
person",   the  language,   "or  entity"   should  be   inserted.                                                               
Therefore, it  would be clear  that anyone from  any organization                                                               
that makes  arrangements for  transportation of  vehicle wouldn't                                                               
be liable.                                                                                                                      
MR. LESSMEIER  pointed out that  in Section 1,  subsection (c)(2)                                                               
makes it clear that whatever  is being done with this legislation                                                               
doesn't impact  a person's ability  to recover damages  under any                                                               
applicable  uninsured or  underinsured  motorist coverage,  which                                                               
didn't  seem  to be  clear  in  the  original legislation.    Mr.                                                               
Lessmeier  concluded by  encouraging  the committee  to move  the                                                               
Number 1277                                                                                                                     
JIM  SHINE JR.,  Staff to  Representative Anderson,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  assisted   Representative  Anderson,   sponsor,  by                                                               
offering that  basically this  legislation allows  an intoxicated                                                               
bar patron  and his or her  vehicle to be transported  home.  The                                                               
Cabaret Hotel Restaurant &  Retailers Association (CHARR) started                                                               
organizing this  concept and it  was introduced  as HB 68  in the                                                               
Twenty-First  Alaska   State  Legislature,  but   ultimately  was                                                               
stalled in the Senate Judiciary  Standing Committee at the end of                                                               
session.    He explained  that  CHARR  has  been able  to  obtain                                                               
financial  support  from  bars,  taxi  companies,  and  corporate                                                               
sponsors in Anchorage  in order to pay the $40  one-time flat fee                                                               
to transport  the bar patron  and his or  her vehicle home.   The                                                               
bar  patron will  be transported  in  the taxicab  while the  bar                                                               
patron's vehicle  will be  driven by  a second  taxicab operator.                                                               
As already mentioned, the insurance  liability will stay with the                                                               
bar patron's vehicle in the  case of an uninsured or underinsured                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked  what the liability is  that people are                                                               
concerned with under the current law.                                                                                           
MR. SHINE  answered the  [concern] involves  a vehicle  owner who                                                               
doesn't have insurance.                                                                                                         
Number 1362                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  commented that  he doesn't  have a  grasp of                                                               
the circumstances which justify the need for this legislation.                                                                  
MR. LESSMEIER reminded  the committee that he  wasn't involved in                                                               
putting  together  the  program.     However,  he  recalled  that                                                               
testimony in  the House State Affairs  Standing Committee relayed                                                               
that the transportation companies  couldn't procure the insurance                                                               
to cover this  kind of risk, and if they  couldn't cover the risk                                                               
under their  own insurance policies,  then they  wouldn't provide                                                               
this service.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked if this legislation  is requiring that                                                               
the vehicle owner's  policy be extended to the  person who drives                                                               
the vehicle in this circumstance.                                                                                               
MR. LESSMEIER answered  in the affirmative.   In further response                                                               
to  Representative   Gara,  Mr.  Lessmeier  specified   that  the                                                               
provision  [extending the  vehicle owner's  policy to  the person                                                               
who drives the  vehicle] is essentially in  Section 1, subsection                                                               
(a).   The intent of Section  1, subsection (a), and  [Version I]                                                               
is that the [vehicle] owner's policy would follow the vehicle.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he  understood that  to be  the intent.                                                               
However, the language [in Section  1, subsection (a)] merely says                                                               
that the  "taxicab driver isn't  liable beyond the limits  of the                                                               
owner's  car" rather  than specifying  that  the owner's  vehicle                                                               
insurance would [follow the vehicle].                                                                                           
CHAIR  McGUIRE  opined that  it  says  it  by [inference].    She                                                               
explained  that [Section  1, subsection  (a)] is  specifying that                                                               
one is liable,  but not beyond the limits of  the policyholder of                                                               
the car.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  pointed out  that it  merely refers  to "any                                                               
applicable  insurance  policy"  and   doesn't  require  that  the                                                               
insurance  policy  of the  owner  of  the  vehicle applies.    He                                                               
offered  his understanding  that the  desire is  to say  that the                                                               
vehicle  owner's  insurance  policy   should  cover  the  taxicab                                                               
Number 1485                                                                                                                     
MR.  LESSMEIER  referred to  Section  1,  subsection (a)(4),  and                                                               
offered  his  belief  that   under  most  [automobile]  insurance                                                               
policies, as long  as the driver is driving as  a permissive user                                                               
- driving  with permission [from  the owner] - then  the coverage                                                               
follows the vehicle.  He opined  that the language in [Section 1,                                                               
subsection (a)(4)] accomplishes that for the taxicab driver.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA pointed  out that  [using such  language] is                                                               
banking  on  the insurance  policy  having  language in  it  that                                                               
matches subsection  (a)(4) of  Version I.   He  said he  would be                                                               
more comfortable with language that  specifies that the insurance                                                               
coverage shall apply in the  circumstance desired.  If the desire                                                               
is to  allow the  vehicle owner's policy  to protect  the victim,                                                               
then  that  should be  specified,  rather  than saying  that  the                                                               
victim would  be protected in  the event  that the policy  of the                                                               
insurance  company has  language  matching the  language in  this                                                               
MR. LESSMEIER commented that he  isn't familiar with every policy                                                               
sold.  Mr. Lessmeier explained:                                                                                                 
     The intent of what we were  trying to do here is ... to                                                                    
     put  the person  in no  worse [a]  situation than  they                                                                    
     would be  in if  the driver was  actually driving.   In                                                                    
     other  words,  let's say  this  person  that is  having                                                                    
     their car delivered got into  that car and ... drove it                                                                    
     home.   We  wanted,  with  this bill,  to  put ...  the                                                                    
     victim in  the same position  they would be in  if that                                                                    
     person were  behind the wheel.   No better.   No worse.                                                                    
     And ...  through this  bill, it was  not the  intent to                                                                    
     put them in a better position.                                                                                             
     It was not the intent to  put them in a worse position.                                                                    
     It was the intent of  these changes simply to address a                                                                    
     situation in  the original bill which  made the taxicab                                                                    
     driver immune from all liability.   That's what we were                                                                    
     trying to  accomplish.   We were  not trying  to create                                                                    
     coverage  where none  exists, Representative  Gara, and                                                                    
     that  would be  the  concern I  would  have about  your                                                                    
     proposal.   We were  simply trying to  put them  in the                                                                    
     same  position.    And  that's   what  we  intended  to                                                                    
     accomplish   and  that's   what,   I   think,  we   did                                                                    
Number 1640                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE  recalled   that  Representative  Rokeberg's  2002                                                               
legislation,  HB 68,  passed the  House unanimously  and provided                                                               
100  percent  immunity [for  taxicab  drivers],  rather than  the                                                               
change worked on by Representative Gruenberg and Mr. Lessmeier.                                                                 
MR. LESSMEIER  indicated his agreement,  and reiterated  that the                                                               
concern  was  brought up  in  the  House State  Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee.   This  solution,  he pointed  out,  was developed  in                                                               
conjunction  with  the  sponsor  and  Representative  Gruenberg's                                                               
office.    If the  intent  is  to find  a  deeper  a pocket  than                                                               
would've existed if the [intoxicated  person] had actually gotten                                                               
into the  vehicle and  driven home,  then it's  totally different                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA relayed  that he  wanted, and  he understood                                                               
Mr.  Lessmeier to  want,  the  taxicab driver  to  have the  same                                                               
coverage as the vehicle owner would  have if he or she had driven                                                               
the vehicle home.                                                                                                               
MR. LESSMEIER  specified that the  intent is to provide  the same                                                               
coverage on  the person driving  the vehicle  home.  There  is no                                                               
desire to create coverage where none otherwise existed.                                                                         
CHAIR  McGUIRE  interjected  that  Representative  Gara  and  Mr.                                                               
Lessmeier are saying the same thing.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GARA agreed,  but opined that the  language of the                                                               
legislation  doesn't address  it.   Therefore,  he surmised  that                                                               
[the intent] is  that to the extent the owner  of the vehicle had                                                               
coverage,  the  taxicab  driver   should  be  protected  by  that                                                               
coverage.   If  the owner  of the  vehicle didn't  have coverage,                                                               
then the  taxicab driver wouldn't  be given coverage  that didn't                                                               
MR. LESSMEIER argued,  "It's a little different. ...  It's to the                                                               
extent that the  coverage ... would be in place  on the driver of                                                               
that vehicle."                                                                                                                  
Number 1740                                                                                                                     
MR. LESSMEIER posed a situation in  which the vehicle is a stolen                                                               
vehicle.   Under Representative Gara's notion,  coverage would be                                                               
created where  it would  not otherwise exist  due to  saying that                                                               
the owner's coverage always follows the vehicle.                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE interjected, "The driver, not the car."                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said, "The driver's coverage."                                                                              
MR.  LESSMEIER  noted that  the  vehicle  owner's coverage  "may"                                                               
[provide coverage to  the driver of the vehicle]  under the terms                                                               
of  the policy.    Coverage  certainly would  be  applied to  the                                                               
permissive user  of the vehicle  under many of  the circumstances                                                               
being discussed.  However, [State  Farm] had concerns with regard                                                               
to  a person  who wasn't  a permissive  user and  there could  be                                                               
other issues.   He reiterated that  there is no desire  to create                                                               
coverage where it didn't otherwise exist.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARA surmised, then, that  the intent is to ensure                                                               
that  the taxicab  driver has  the coverage  that the  person who                                                               
would've  driven the  vehicle  home would've  had.   However,  he                                                               
pointed out,  the legislation  doesn't make  that policy  held by                                                               
the person who would've driven  the vehicle home available to the                                                               
taxicab driver.   Representative Gara posed a  situation in which                                                               
an intoxicated  individual drove home.   In one  circumstance the                                                               
intoxicated  individual  has a  policy  that  specifies that  his                                                               
coverage extends to  anyone he authorizes to drive him  home.  In                                                               
the   aforementioned  circumstance,   this  legislation   [works]                                                               
because the policy specifies that  the [policy holder] is covered                                                               
and so is the individual he  provides with the authority to drive                                                               
the vehicle home.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA   then  posed  a  situation   in  which  the                                                               
intoxicated individual's  policy says that the  policy covers the                                                               
[policy holder]  but not  those he gives  the authority  to drive                                                               
his  vehicle.   In  such a  situation,  this legislation  doesn't                                                               
require  that  the  [policy holder's]  insurance  extend  to  the                                                               
taxicab  driver.   Representative Gara  stated that  he wants  to                                                               
extend the [policy  holder's] insurance to the  taxicab driver as                                                               
was  stated by  Representative Anderson  and Mr.  Lessmeier.   It                                                               
seems  simple  [that  the legislation]  would  specify  that  the                                                               
policy should follow the driver, he said.                                                                                       
Number 1978                                                                                                                     
MR.  LESSMEIER said  that although  he would  have to  review the                                                               
statutes,  he   believes  that  permissive  users   are  covered.                                                               
Furthermore, he  said he didn't  know of any policy  that doesn't                                                               
cover [permissive  users].  He offered  to check into that.   Mr.                                                               
Lessmeier  reiterated  [State  Farm's]  opposition  to  mandating                                                               
coverage where it doesn't exist.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  remarked, "If we're only  requiring coverage                                                               
under coverage  that exists but  not under coverage  that doesn't                                                               
exist, we're not doing anything with this bill."                                                                                
MR.  LESSMEIER disagreed.   He  explained  that this  legislation                                                               
began by giving complete immunity  to the driver, which isn't the                                                               
case now.   Now  the legislation only  provides immunity  [up to]                                                               
the  coverage  that  exists, and  furthermore  [this  legislation                                                               
ensures] that this  doesn't impact a person's  ability to recover                                                               
under his or her [underinsured or uninsured motorist] policy.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  expressed  the need  not  to  inadvertently                                                               
eliminate policy coverage that does  exist.  He posed a situation                                                               
in which the person driving the  vehicle home may have his or her                                                               
own  liability policy,  an  underinsured  and uninsured  motorist                                                               
policy, and perhaps even a homeowner's policy.                                                                                  
MR.  LESSMEIER interjected  that the  person driving  the vehicle                                                               
home  isn't going  to have  underinsured  and uninsured  motorist                                                               
coverage  that provides  coverage  to the  injured  person.   The                                                               
injured  person  would  be  the one  with  the  underinsured  and                                                               
uninsured  motorist  coverage.    He  specified  that  he  wasn't                                                               
present to debate the philosophical  reasons why this legislation                                                               
was introduced.  Mr. Lessmeier  clarified that [State Farm] saw a                                                               
problem [and is attempting to  address] the possible situation in                                                               
which an innocent person is left uncompensated.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  suggested  that   apart  from  the  owner's                                                               
policy, which  should follow the  driver, the  legislation should                                                               
also  include  language  specifying   "or  any  other  applicable                                                               
policy."  He  said he didn't know why the  legislation limits the                                                               
policies  that  someone  could  use   to  obtain  coverage.    He                                                               
specified that the  circumstance being addressed is  one in which                                                               
the taxicab driver who is  driving the [intoxicated individual's]                                                               
car  home does  so  poorly  and kills  someone.   Therefore,  the                                                               
desire is  to point out to  the victim's family from  whom it can                                                               
seek  compensation.    He  expressed  the  need  to  allow  other                                                               
policies,  beyond   the  [vehicle]  owner's  policy,   to  apply.                                                               
However,  the legislation  seems to  say that  the only  policies                                                               
that apply  are uninsured and underinsured  policies, even though                                                               
there may be some liability policies that could apply as well.                                                                  
CHAIR  McGUIRE announced  that she  would  take public  testimony                                                               
today  and then  set HB  423 aside.   She  pointed out  that [the                                                               
legislation] has to  create an incentive for a  taxicab driver to                                                               
drive an  intoxicated person's home.   She asked why  the taxicab                                                               
driver would  risk having his/her insurance  rates increasing due                                                               
to  something  happening  when   the  taxicab  driver  drives  an                                                               
intoxicated person's vehicle home.                                                                                              
Number 2180                                                                                                                     
MR.  LESSMEIER recalled  that the  testimony in  the House  State                                                               
Affairs Standing  Committee suggested  that adding  the language,                                                               
"or any other  applicable policy", would kill this  program.  Mr.                                                               
Lessmeier said that [State Farm]  wants to recognize, as a matter                                                               
of  policy, that  this is  a  good program  and that  there is  a                                                               
narrow  situation in  which  an innocent  victim  could be  hurt.                                                               
Therefore,  [State   Farm]  wants   to  be   sure  that   in  the                                                               
aforementioned  situation,  there  would  be  coverage  for  that                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS   asked  if  Mr.  Lessmeier   would  have                                                               
problems with the  following language:  "The  auto insurance that                                                               
covers  the driver  [shall also]  cover the  taxicab driver  that                                                               
drives  the  car  from  the  licensed premises  to  the  home  or                                                               
directed location of the original driver."                                                                                      
MR.  LESSMEIER   said  he  would   want  to  think   about  that,                                                               
reiterating  that he  doesn't want  to create  coverage where  no                                                               
coverage exists.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS asked, "Of  the auto insurance that covers                                                               
the driver?"                                                                                                                    
MR. LESSMEIER  replied in  the affirmative  and said  that [State                                                               
Farm] doesn't have any problem with the suggested language.                                                                     
Number 2266                                                                                                                     
LINDA  WILSON, Deputy  Director,  Public  Defender Agency  (PDA),                                                               
Department of  Administration (DOA),  testified in support  of HB
423.  She  expressed pleasure with legislation that  is trying to                                                               
do  something  positive  to prevent  people  from  driving  while                                                               
intoxicated.  Giving the taxicab  driver the opportunity to drive                                                               
an  intoxicated  individual's  car  is  a  positive  step.    She                                                               
commented that it's  nice to see legislation  that isn't punitive                                                               
and that addresses a problem.                                                                                                   
CHAIR McGUIRE,  upon determining no  one else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked if the  intention is that  the taxicab                                                               
company's  liability  policy doesn't  go  into  effect [in  these                                                               
MR.  SHINE  explained  that  this  is a  pilot  program  for  the                                                               
Anchorage area.   Taxicab operators in  Anchorage are independent                                                               
contractors that  have to take  out their own  insurance policies                                                               
on a  vehicle and it  only stays with  the vehicle.   He recalled                                                               
testimony in the House State  Affairs Standing Committee from the                                                               
transportation inspector, who specified  that the insurance [held                                                               
by the operators] would only be applicable to licensed taxicabs.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  surmised that  if the [taxicab  driver] also                                                               
had insurance  that followed them, the  [taxicab driver] wouldn't                                                               
mind having that apply.                                                                                                         
MR.  SHINE  agreed.   However,  he  said  he found  that  taxicab                                                               
operators  have  a  difficult time  obtaining  insurance  because                                                               
[they]  can  charge  a  fee  for the  driving  and  there  is  an                                                               
incentive to  drive faster  to obtain better  tips and  make more                                                               
trips.   He  relayed that  no  insurance company  in Alaska  will                                                               
insure taxicab operators.   In fact, he said,  the only insurance                                                               
company that he could find  that will insure taxicab operators is                                                               
TAPE 04-42, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2393                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  clarified that  he  isn't  saying that  all                                                               
other  policies should  apply;  rather, he  is  merely asking  if                                                               
there  is   any  reason  why  language   specifying,  "any  other                                                               
insurance   policy  that   applies  shall   apply"  wouldn't   be                                                               
MR. SHINE highlighted  that HB 423 aims to get  drunk drivers off                                                               
the road.  He echoed  the sponsor's earlier testimony that almost                                                               
40 percent  of the traffic  deaths in 2002 were  alcohol related.                                                               
In  reviewing the  issue  of insurance,  Mr.  Shine informed  the                                                               
committee that  taxicab drivers are  supposed to  be professional                                                               
drivers  because  they have  to  go  through licensing  and  drug                                                               
testing,  and thus  the probability  of  a death  or an  accident                                                               
while transporting a vehicle would be  slim.  He relayed that the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee  discussed the slim chance                                                               
of an  accident occurring in  comparison to taking  drunk drivers                                                               
off the road and saving lives.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  offered his understanding that  the point is                                                               
not  to  hold  the  taxicab driver  liable  above  the  available                                                               
insurance   limits.     However,  the   reality  is   that  among                                                               
professional drivers there is the  pressure to drive fast and get                                                               
more fares.   He posed a scenario in which  a taxicab driver runs                                                               
a red  light and  kills a child  or permanently  injures someone.                                                               
He noted  that the reality  is that most people  carry inadequate                                                               
insurance.  The current legislation  says that perhaps the policy                                                               
of the  person who would've driven  the vehicle home would  be in                                                               
effect,   and  the   legislation   also   covers  uninsured   and                                                               
underinsured coverage.  However, he  maintained that there may be                                                               
other  insurance  policies  that   also  apply.    Therefore,  he                                                               
reiterated  his suggestion  to  include  the following  language:                                                               
"or any other applicable insurance  policy".  Representative Gara                                                               
specified that  he didn't  want to  mandate that  other insurance                                                               
policies apply, but if they do  already apply, then they do so in                                                               
this situation as well.  Representative  Gara said that he had no                                                               
problem immunizing  the taxicab  driver, which  he viewed  as the                                                               
purpose of the legislation.                                                                                                     
Number 2260                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS pointed  out that  the sponsor  statement                                                               
and  the memorandum  requesting  a  hearing for  HB  423 seem  to                                                               
suggest  that  this  legislation  immunizes  the  individual  who                                                               
drives the intoxicated  individual home as well as  the driver of                                                               
the intoxicated individual's  vehicle.  He surmised  that if this                                                               
is true and  the intoxicated individual is  immunized, then every                                                               
taxicab driver with an intoxicated  rider is being immunized.  He                                                               
said he didn't see [such language] in the legislation.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that HB  423 has nothing to do                                                               
with the taxicab driver who  transports an intoxicated individual                                                               
home;  this legislation  only deals  with the  individual driving                                                               
the [intoxicated] individual's vehicle.                                                                                         
Number 2209                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that HB 423 would be set aside.                                                                         

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