Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/10/2004 09:51 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 342(FIN) am "An Act relating to driving while under the influence, to the definition of 'previously convicted,' to alcohol-related offenses, to ignition interlock devices, and to the issuance of limited driver's licenses; and providing for an effective date." This was the second hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-Chair Wilken noted that this bill would strengthen the consequences of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and would provide Wellness and Therapeutic Courts more authority. He pointed out the CS HB 342(FIN) am, Version 23-LS1292\W.A and its accompanying fiscal notes are before the Committee. CINDY CASHEN, Executive Director, Juneau Chapter, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), spoke in favor of the legislation as "that ignition interlock systems will be one of the tools in the toolbox to prevent drunk driving." She testified that studies conducted in Maryland, California, and Canada indicate that 50 to 90-percent of offenders who were sentenced to using a ignition interlock device "did not drive drunk two years after their license was given back to them." She stressed that this device is effective and that the states utilizing the device in their DUI sentencing like it. She noted that the cost of the interlock device is less than the $1,500 fine imposed for a first DUI offense. She also noted that a judge has the authority to levy a fine above $1,500, depending upon the offender's blood alcohol content (BAC) level. DON SMITH, Administrator, Alaska Highway Safety Office, spoke in favor of the bill. He noted that because legislation such as this have not been enacted, Alaska's highways have been ineligible, for the past several years, to receive approximately $1.5 million of federal highway concrete funding that is available to support highway construction projects. However, he clarified that while this money could not be allocated to support State highway construction projects, as intended, "it has not been lost" as it was transferred to support highway safety projects. In conclusion, he noted that this legislation "is a high priority with the national highway transportation safety committee." REPRESENTATIVE CARL GATTO, the bill's sponsor, informed the Committee that ignition interlock devices have a good performance record. He shared that numerous methods including incarcerating people who have been convicted of DUI; levying hefty fines; or a combination of both, have had limited success in discouraging drinking and driving. He noted that upon review of other states' approaches to this situation, it was determined that use of an ignition interlock device was a factor in those having success in this regard. He reviewed that while this type of legislation had been entertained in the past, some of the detriments were the lack of a device operator in the State and the quality of the devices available at the time. Now however, he continued, in addition to a certified vendor being available, technological advances have improved the durability and quality of the devices to such things as cold weather and pampering. He asked the Committee to support this legislation in order to assist in keeping drunk drivers from operating vehicles. Senator Bunde moved to report the bill from Committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. He noted that other [unspecified] legislation is being advanced that would result in an increase in federal highway funding. There being no objection, CS HB 342(FIN)am was REPORTED from Committee with previous zero fiscal note #1 from the Court System dated January 29, 2004; zero fiscal note #2 from the Department of Law, dated February 13, 2004; zero fiscal note #3 from the Department of Public Safety dated February 2, 2004; indeterminate fiscal note #5 from the Department of Corrections dated February 2, 2004; indeterminate fiscal note #6 from the Public Defender Agency, Department of Administration; and a new fiscal note in the amount of $215,000 dated May 10, 2004 from the Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Administration.