Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/10/2004 09:51 AM FIN

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

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