Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

03/09/2009 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              SB  51-MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                           
1:38:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration  of SB 51 and noted that                                                               
it  is not  his intention  to move  the bill  today. [Before  the                                                               
committee was  CSSB 51(TRA).] Speaking  as sponsor,  he explained                                                               
that  the  bill is  about  illegal  window tinting.  The  Spenard                                                               
Community Council said members of  the public are concerned about                                                               
vehicles   with   darkly    tinted   windows   traversing   their                                                               
neighborhoods.  Being  unable  to  see  who is  in  the  car  and                                                               
therefore who is in the  neighborhood is worrisome. In the course                                                               
of their investigation they found  that although it is illegal to                                                               
drive  a car  with  windows that  have dark  tinting,  it is  not                                                               
illegal  for  a  shop  to   install  that  product.  The  logical                                                               
outgrowth  of that  observation is  to make  the installation  of                                                               
illegal window tint a citable offense.                                                                                          
1:39:36 PM                                                                                                                    
He noted  that California,  Nevada and  Washington all  allow the                                                               
imposition of jail time for  installing tinting that is too dark.                                                               
When the bill  was introduced last year he concluded  that it was                                                               
too  onerous  to impose  jail  time  for  what is  essentially  a                                                               
traffic offense.  SB 51 keeps  the traffic infraction  penalty in                                                               
place with a  maximum fine of $300 for  installing window tinting                                                               
that is too dark according to state regulation.                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH opened public testimony.                                                                                           
1:40:27 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN STATAFORA, Lieutenant,  said he has been a  police officer in                                                               
Anchorage for 31 years. Currently he  is in charge of the traffic                                                               
section and  has spoken to  numerous patrol and  traffic officers                                                               
who  have legitimate  complaints  with dark  window tinting.  Two                                                               
safety  issues  are  involved.  One  is  that  accidents  can  be                                                               
prevented  if motorists  are able  to maintain  eye contact  with                                                               
adjacent drivers.  The other is  that it can tie  officers' hands                                                               
if they can't  see into vehicles when they're trying  to locate a                                                               
driver or  match a  particular car to  a driver.  Another concern                                                               
relates to the  medical exemption. The reality is  that these are                                                               
essentially  hand-written notes  and  APD would  like to  request                                                               
that they be an official  standardized document that contains the                                                               
doctor's name and phone number for verification purposes.                                                                       
LIEUTENANT STATAFORA stated support  for the provision to require                                                               
a tint  hologram to identify  the installer and certify  that the                                                               
installation  complies with  the law,  but the  biggest issue  is                                                               
safety. Walking  up to  a vehicle  is one  of the  most dangerous                                                               
jobs an  officer faces and being  able to see a  suspect's action                                                               
has allowed  him to avert  serious harm or death  numerous times.                                                               
"I'm  sure that  that claim  is echoed  by every  law enforcement                                                               
officer in the state," he said.                                                                                                 
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked  how much time he has spent  in a patrol                                                               
LIEUTENANT STATAFORA replied  he spent 18 years  on the graveyard                                                               
shift, 13 years working homicide  and robbery cases. For 10 years                                                               
he  was  on  the  SWAT  team and  was  responsible  for  stopping                                                               
numerous vehicles and taking violent suspects into custody.                                                                     
RODNEY  DIAL, Lieutenant,  Alaska State  Troopers, Department  of                                                               
Public Safety  (DPS), said DPS  supports SB  51. The bill  is not                                                               
about changing  standards; it  is a  means of  keeping businesses                                                               
from installing a product that makes a vehicle illegal.                                                                         
LIEUTENANT DIAL explained  that last week in Ketchikan  he used a                                                               
certified  tint  meter  on  a  series  of  foreign  and  domestic                                                               
vehicles. On  average, the driver's and  passenger's side windows                                                               
with  factory  installed light  tint  blocked  28 percent  to  30                                                               
percent of  all light, which  is legal under current  Alaska law.                                                               
He then  applied a medium tint  on top of the  stock factory tint                                                               
and  retested the  windows. The  combination  blocked between  68                                                               
percent and 72  percent of all light. This  is essentially darker                                                               
than sunglasses, he  said. If you were to apply  a medium tint on                                                               
top  of windows  that lawfully  block  60 percent  of light,  the                                                               
result  would be  a window  that blocks  over 90  percent of  all                                                               
Currently 45  states and the  District of Columbia have  net tint                                                               
standards,  which take  into account  after market  tinting. Auto                                                               
Trim Design  is advocating a  film standard to  allow application                                                               
of  a 35  percent film  atop stock  factory tinted  windows. This                                                               
means  that some  windows would  block 90  percent of  all light,                                                               
which is  particularly dark at  night. For  perspective, cosmetic                                                               
sunglasses allow four  times more light to pass  through and it's                                                               
recommended  that  they  not  be  worn  at  night.  Relaxing  the                                                               
standards  to make  everyone  happy really  isn't  an option,  he                                                               
said. The  industry standpoint is  that customers want  medium or                                                               
dark tint,  but the current  standards help keep  law enforcement                                                               
officers,  pedestrians  and  other  drivers safe.  He  asked  the                                                               
committee to maintain the current tint standards and pass SB 51.                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked  how much time he has spent  in a patrol                                                               
car where he has had to deal with tinted windows.                                                                               
LIEUTENANT DIAL replied nearly his  entire career. About 12 years                                                               
have been devoted to exclusive  patrol functions and most of that                                                               
time  was  in rural  communities  where  there  were few  if  any                                                               
streetlights.  Tinted  windows were  a  bigger  concern in  those                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  if  there is  much  tint  on  vehicle                                                               
windows in rural Alaska.                                                                                                        
LIEUTENANT DIAL said  no, but he ran into it  on a frequent basis                                                               
when he worked at the Talkeetna and Glennallen road posts.                                                                      
BOB  BOSWOOD, President,  Auto Trim  Design,  Fairbanks, said  he                                                               
opposes  the current  tinting regulations  because  they are  too                                                               
restrictive to allow his business  to survive. His business is to                                                               
tint windows and he feels that  applying a 35 percent medium film                                                               
allows sufficient  view into a vehicle  so as to not  be a safety                                                               
issue. He has spoken to  numerous police officers and troopers in                                                               
the Fairbanks area and 99 percent  had no problem with that level                                                               
of film.  "Nor did they  feel that they  were at risk  in pulling                                                               
that vehicle over once they've lit them up at night," he said.                                                                  
MR.  BOSWOOD disputed  the statement  that 35  percent tint  atop                                                               
factory tint  blocks 90 percent  of the light. Rather,  it allows                                                               
between 28  percent and 32  percent light transmittance.  He said                                                               
he  would   support  tint  laws   like  California,   Nevada  and                                                               
Washington have, but  he would note that all those  laws are less                                                               
restrictive  than Alaska's  tint laws.  He relayed  that all  his                                                               
customers  sign a  waiver acknowledging  that the  tint does  not                                                               
comply with Alaska regulations. He  expressed the view that SB 51                                                               
will not  stop people from  applying dark  tint, but it  will put                                                               
some reputable businesses out of business.                                                                                      
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked if the  current regulations  require an                                                               
installer to apply a hologram.                                                                                                  
CHAIR FRENCH said  it's a new requirement in the  bill on page 2,                                                               
lines 2-3; it's not part of current regulation.                                                                                 
STEVE  VINCENT, General  Manager,  Auto  Trim Design,  Fairbanks,                                                               
said Fairbanks Police  Chief Dan Hoffman stated in  a letter that                                                               
he would support a reasonable  lessening of the current tint laws                                                               
so  long  as  they  comport  with the  majority  of  other  state                                                               
standards  and  allow  adequate  visibility  to  approaching  law                                                               
enforcement officers.  North Pole Police Chief  Paul Lindhag also                                                               
sent a  letter supporting  35 percent  light transmission  on the                                                               
front windows of vehicles.                                                                                                      
MR.  VINCENT told  the committee  that  he has  a medical  waiver                                                               
because of a  family history of melanoma. 70 percent  UV block on                                                               
a window  is not  sufficient to  stop the  growth of  melanoma or                                                               
cancer  cells,  he said.  Current  law  doesn't give  people  the                                                               
opportunity to take  preventative steps; they have  to wait until                                                               
they've been diagnosed with a  cancer problem. He said he resents                                                               
that he has  a medical waiver, but his truck  is targeted because                                                               
there is no sticker to identify that he has a medical waiver.                                                                   
CHAIR FRENCH thanked  him for the suggestion  about an identifier                                                               
for a medical waiver.                                                                                                           
2:04:48 PM                                                                                                                    
TATE OLSON, Technician, Auto Trim  Design, Fairbanks, said he has                                                               
worked  hard for  the  last  two years  to  become proficient  at                                                               
installing window tint. In that  time he has tinted many vehicles                                                               
and some are  official. In his opinion 35 percent  tint is a film                                                               
that is  very visible. The  factory tint  is very light.  He sees                                                               
work  that he's  done  every day  and he  can  see these  drivers                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH,  finding  no   further  testimony,  closed  public                                                               
testimony and announced he would  hold SB 51 for potential future                                                               

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