Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/12/2010 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved SB 92 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
        SB 239-IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES/DUI/CHEM. TEST                                                                    
1:59:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 239.                                                                             
SENATOR MCGUIRE  moved to adopt  work draft  committee substitute                                                               
(CS) for  SB 239, labeled  26-LS1210\S, as the  working document.                                                               
There being no objection, version S was before the committee.                                                                   
2:00:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KEVIN MEYER,  Sponsor of SB 239, said that  two years ago                                                               
he  worked  to  get  legislation passed  pertaining  to  ignition                                                               
interlock devices  as part  of sentencing  for driving  under the                                                               
influence (DUI) of alcohol. The law  has been in place for over a                                                               
year and he  has discovered that this effective  tool hasn't been                                                               
used  as often  as anticipated.  He reported  that in  2009 there                                                               
were  3,513 court  ordered installations,  yet only  218 ignition                                                               
interlock devices  were installed. This  should be a  concern for                                                               
everyone,  particularly  since  it  has been  proven  that  these                                                               
devices do keep  people who have been drinking  from starting the                                                               
car and driving, he said.                                                                                                       
SB 239 specifies the time  period in which the ignition interlock                                                               
device  would be  needed  correlated to  the  sentencing for  the                                                               
various offenses.  For the  first time  DUI the  interlock device                                                               
would  be   required  for  six   months.  The  bill   also  lists                                                               
installation of  an ignition interlock  device as a  condition of                                                               
sentencing  that  could  not  be suspended.  He  noted  that  the                                                               
previous bill made this an option, which was a mistake.                                                                         
2:03:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked if contractors could  handle the increased                                                               
capacity if these  devices were mandated as a  part of sentencing                                                               
for DUI cases.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  MEYER  replied  during the  initial  bill  hearings  two                                                               
vendors indicated that they would  not have a problem meeting the                                                               
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff  to Senator  Meyer, added  that those                                                               
two  providers contacted  the sponsor's  office  recently to  say                                                               
that  it  doesn't  work  to   have  probation  and  the  ignition                                                               
interlock  device tied  because  people were  either waiting  out                                                               
their probation  so that  they didn't have  to have  the ignition                                                               
interlock installed or they weren't  getting the device put on in                                                               
the first place if their probation  was in any way suspended. The                                                               
providers  indicated  that  they  could   be  doing  a  lot  more                                                               
installations. We took that into  consideration when we looked at                                                               
separating the two, she said.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  COGHILL  questioned  how  installations  and  management                                                               
would be  handled in the  less populated  and rural areas  of the                                                               
MS. MARASIGAN  replied the original  bill provided  exemptions to                                                               
accommodate people who don't have  access to these services. This                                                               
has not changed.                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  asked if  the two vendors  have had  any trouble                                                               
keeping the  devices working  in extreme  cold weather.  He noted                                                               
that was a concern when the bill passed initially.                                                                              
2:06:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER said  they've found that most  of the court-ordered                                                               
ignition  interlock installations  have  been  in Fairbanks,  and                                                               
they appear to work fine in cold weather.                                                                                       
CHAIR FRENCH noted  the repealed subsection (r) and  asked if the                                                               
source of  the problem was  that the different  probation periods                                                               
allowed people to escape the ignition interlock requirement.                                                                    
MS. MARASIGAN  said Mr. Wooliver  highlighted that  language when                                                               
the sponsor  began talking about  decoupling the  requirement for                                                               
an ignition interlock  from probation. What has  happened is that                                                               
people on  probation for DUI  would decide  not to drive  so they                                                               
wouldn't get  an ignition interlock  or they wouldn't get  one if                                                               
their probation period didn't match  the time requirement for the                                                               
ignition interlock.  Nor would  it be a  part of  their sentence,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
2:08:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI expressed appreciation  that the sponsor was                                                               
attempting to fix the problem and said he supported the bill.                                                                   
CHAIR FRENCH  agreed and restated the  stunning disparity between                                                               
the court orders versus the installations.                                                                                      
SENATOR COGHILL said  he wonders if the low  numbers reflect that                                                               
some Anchorage  judges are ordering chemical  treatment for those                                                               
convicted of DUIs.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  MEYER  suggested  the committee  ask  Mr.  Wooliver  why                                                               
ignition  interlock  devices  aren't   used  much  in  Anchorage.                                                               
Perhaps it's because the judges  are ordering other programs, but                                                               
that's obviously where most of the DUIs occur, he said.                                                                         
MS.  MARASIGAN   reiterated  that  some  people   who  have  been                                                               
convicted of DUI simply opt not to drive.                                                                                       
SENATOR  MEYER said  the intention  here is  to keep  people from                                                               
driving  when they're  drinking. Opting  not to  drive at  all is                                                               
just fine.                                                                                                                      
2:10:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  CELL,   Lieutenant,  Alaska  Peace   Officers  Association                                                               
(APOA), said  she represents about  900 Alaskans  statewide, many                                                               
of  whom are  charged  with  picking up  the  pieces after  drunk                                                               
driving accidents. She  said they would like to do  less of this,                                                               
which  is why  APOA  supports SB  239,  which requires  interlock                                                               
ignition  devices as  a  mandatory part  of  DUI sentences.  2008                                                               
National  Highway  Transportation  Safety Board  statistics  show                                                               
that someone in the U.S. is  killed in a drunk driving crash once                                                               
every 45  minutes so any  tool that  helps to keep  drunk drivers                                                               
off the road  and holds them accountable for  their actions would                                                               
be helpful.                                                                                                                     
LIEUTENANT CELL  said law enforcement is  particularly interested                                                               
in reforming and  deterring those persons who  become "hard core"                                                               
drunk  drivers. These  are drivers  who are  found to  be driving                                                               
with a blood alcohol level that  is twice the legal limit. A 2005                                                               
survey of  these drivers indicated  that hard core  drunk drivers                                                               
believe  that their  actions  would have  been  changed had  more                                                               
severe penalties  been imposed for  earlier offenses.  70 percent                                                               
of the  hard core drunk  drivers surveyed said they  believe that                                                               
the  requirement  for an  ignition  interlock  device would  have                                                               
changed their  drunk driving. We  should listen to  these people,                                                               
she said.                                                                                                                       
2:12:43 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  BROWER,  Assistant  Attorney General,  Criminal  Division,                                                               
Department  of Law  (DOL), said  he is  an Alaska  traffic safety                                                               
resource prosecutor  and he sees  that tying the  requirement for                                                               
an ignition interlock  to the time of probation can  be a problem                                                               
depending  on the  length of  the sentence.  He related  that the                                                               
probation period for  a first time DUI is long  enough to have an                                                               
ignition interlock and  there's probably enough time  on a second                                                               
DUI, but even though every  felony DUI judgment has a requirement                                                               
for an  ignition interlock  device, he  suspects that  there have                                                               
been no felony DUI people who have ever gotten one.                                                                             
MR.  BROWER said  a lot  of what  this bill  does is  to put  all                                                               
ignition interlock issues and sentencing  issues for DUI in Title                                                               
28,  the drunk  driving statute.  When it  [only] referred  to AS                                                               
12.25.102,  the  judge  could   either  sentence  somebody  as  a                                                               
condition of  probation or  as a condition  of sentence.  In this                                                               
case it would be a condition of sentence, he said.                                                                              
SENATOR  COGHILL  asked  if  many  of  the  3,513  court  ordered                                                               
ignition interlock  devices were  part of  a sentence  for felony                                                               
MR.  BROWER said  felony DUIs  are included  in that  number, but                                                               
that's not the  only reason for the disparity. Some  of the other                                                               
reasons  include people  who are  on  probation for  2 years  and                                                               
don't want  to get an  ignition interlock device.  The assumption                                                               
is that  they decide  to wait  two years so  that they  no longer                                                               
need an ignition interlock device.  This bill amends that so that                                                               
once a person gets their license  back they would have to have an                                                               
ignition interlock  installed for a  certain period of  time. But                                                               
it  would be  a fallacy  to think  that people  who have  revoked                                                               
licenses  don't drive  because  most of  them  do. "Repeat  drunk                                                               
drivers, as  a general rule,  do not have  a license and  I think                                                               
that most  people with a felony  DUI have been driving  without a                                                               
license," he said.                                                                                                              
2:17:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  said his reason for  asking was to find  out how                                                               
many  of those  3,513 court  orders  may not  have been  mandated                                                               
because it was  a felony DUI and it was  understood that they did                                                               
not have a right to drive.                                                                                                      
MR.  BROWER  said  the  way  the  statute  is  currently  written                                                               
everyone gets  an ignition  interlock order  as a  condition when                                                               
they regain the  privilege to drive. That doesn't  change in this                                                               
bill. He said he doesn't know  how many people haven't yet become                                                               
eligible for an ignition interlock or even a license.                                                                           
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if there  is data indicating that this                                                               
reduces recidivism.                                                                                                             
MR. BROWER replied there isn't any  data from Alaska, but a study                                                               
of  other  states  indicates  that there  is  benefit.  A  recent                                                               
National  Transportation Safety  Administration report  said that                                                               
while  ignition interlocks  are on  they work,  but once  they've                                                               
been removed people tend to fall back into their old patterns.                                                                  
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said the  data that  was presented  for the                                                               
initial  bill  was  impressive  and it  weighed  heavily  in  his                                                               
support. He stressed the importance  of making decisions that are                                                               
based  on evidence  and science  and suggested  that DOL  and the                                                               
Court  System  should be  interested  in  tracking this  to  know                                                               
whether or not  this policy is working. My guess  is that it will                                                               
have huge positive impacts, he added.                                                                                           
MR.  BROWER said  that  will be  done. He  added  that this  bill                                                               
doesn't change  the current  law so  much as it  cleans it  up to                                                               
ensure that more people get ignition interlocks installed.                                                                      
2:20:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  said he's  still a bit  puzzled because  he thought                                                               
the  law had  been written  in a  manner to  allow judges  to not                                                               
impose an ignition interlock as  a condition of sentence, but the                                                               
sponsor said  that a  judge ordered  an ignition  interlock 3,513                                                               
times in 2009.  There seems to be a disconnect  between the court                                                               
orders and  the number installed  and it  seems to be  related to                                                               
the fact  that a lot of  people are saying they  just won't drive                                                               
while  they're on  probation. He  asked if  it's really  the case                                                               
that  3,300  Alaskans  are waiting  out  the  ignition  interlock                                                               
period or if there are other answers.                                                                                           
MR. BROWER replied  that doesn't seem reasonable,  but he doesn't                                                               
have any other answers.                                                                                                         
CHAIR FRENCH  observed that  this will do  away with  the ability                                                               
for people to  wait out their probation period  during which they                                                               
would  be required  to have  an ignition  interlock. This  says a                                                               
person  with a  DUI  has to  get an  ignition  interlock for  six                                                               
months when they get their license back.                                                                                        
2:23:06 PM                                                                                                                    
KERRY  HENNINGS,  Driver  Licensing Manager,  Division  of  Motor                                                               
Vehicles   (DMV),   Department  of   Administration,   introduced                                                               
 CHAIR  FRENCH asked  what, if  anything, DMV  will do  to ensure                                                               
that a  person who has lost  their license because of  a DUI gets                                                               
an ignition interlock when they apply to get their license back.                                                                
MS. HENNINGS  replied DMV's current  practice won't  change. When                                                               
someone  applies  for a  limited  privilege  or to  regain  their                                                               
privilege and there is an  ignition interlock order in place, DMV                                                               
requires proof of installation.                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH asked how DMV  would know that an ignition interlock                                                               
order is in place.                                                                                                              
MS. HENNINGS  replied that comes in  on the DUI judgment  and the                                                               
record is annotated upon receipt.                                                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH asked what happens if  a person applies to get their                                                               
license back and says they don't have a car.                                                                                    
MS.  HENNINGS explained  that if  someone comes  in to  apply for                                                               
limited privileges they need to  have a designated vehicle to put                                                               
the  ignition interlock  on. She  added that  DMV also  can issue                                                               
identification cards in lieu of a license.                                                                                      
2:26:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  said he'd like  to know  if there have  been any                                                               
challenges to this  because he can see that someone  who uses the                                                               
same vehicle might say that they are being treated unfairly.                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH asked  Mr. Wooliver if he knows of  any problem that                                                               
the Court System  has with respect to  issuing ignition interlock                                                               
DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative  Attorney, Alaska  Court  System,                                                               
said he isn't  aware of any problems associated  with issuing the                                                               
orders, but he is  aware that part of the reason  for the bill is                                                               
to  make  changes  like  not  suspending  an  ignition  interlock                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH asked  if he  has any  feedback to  offer from  the                                                               
judges' perspective.                                                                                                            
MR. WOOLIVER said judges hear that  it can be expensive but he is                                                               
unaware  of  any  implementation   difficulties  other  than  the                                                               
practical  aspects   of  a  harsh  sentence   that  is  sometimes                                                               
difficult for  people to meet.  He added  that he was  stunned to                                                               
learn that  less than 10 percent  of the people who  were ordered                                                               
to get an ignition interlock actually have them.                                                                                
2:29:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony  and announced he would hold                                                               
SB 239 in committee.                                                                                                            

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