Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17
03/22/2005 01:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HB 190-REQUIRED ID FOR PURCHASING ALCOHOL CHAIR ANDERSON announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 190, "An Act relating to the purchase of alcoholic beverages and to requiring identification to buy alcoholic beverages; requiring driver's licenses and identification cards to be marked if a person is restricted from consuming alcoholic beverages as a result of a conviction or condition of probation or parole." 1:35:57 JAY HARDENBROOK, Staff to Representative Crawford, Alaska State Legislature, explained that HB 190 is a step toward preventing problem drinkers from purchasing alcohol in Alaska. Mr. Hardenbrook informed the committee that Alaska has the highest rate of alcoholism and alcohol-related crimes in the U.S. Although Alaska has some of the strictest penalties for alcohol- related crimes, Alaska continues to have astronomical rates of recidivism. Therefore, it's time for a new approach, and HB 190 moves in that direction. Currently, many people on parole and probation for alcohol-related crimes aren't allowed to purchase alcohol. This legislation would simply place a mark on state- issued identification as a way in which those who sell alcoholic beverages will know whether a person is not allowed to purchase alcohol. The legislation also requires that bar tenders, wait staff, and clerks in liquor stores check a resident's state identification before selling the individual alcohol. 1:37:27 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked whether any other states have adopted similar legislation. MR. HARDENBROOK answered that no other state has adopted this specific plan. He informed the committee that other states have created special license plates for those who have [been convicted of] driving while intoxicated (DWI). REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD, speaking as the sponsor of HB 190, related that Oregon is presently hearing legislation almost identical to HB 190. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG recalled that either the State of Washington or Oregon put in place a "zebra [license] plate" for the same reason as this, but it was withdrawn from the law because of the "negative feel" it created. 1:38:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD explained that the aforementioned is why HB 190 is directed only toward drunk drinking. He informed the committee that more than 80 percent of the people in Alaska's jails and prisons were convicted of alcohol-related offenses. Therefore, the desire is to prohibit repeat [offenders with alcohol-related offenses] from being able to buy, sell, or consume alcohol. The aforementioned is already in law, but law enforcement hasn't been given the tools to segregate those individuals from the rest of society, which is what this legislation attempts. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN pointed out that tourists wouldn't have such distinctions on their identification. MR. HARDENBROOK explained that if an individual has identification specifying that he or she is from another state, the individual wouldn't have to present [identification from Alaska]. 1:40:32 PM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN surmised then that the legislation would prohibit an individual from entering locations at which alcohol is served. MR. HARDENBROOK clarified that HB 190 only addresses the purchase of alcohol. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD interjected that the prohibition of individuals [with alcohol-related offenses] from entering locations where alcohol is served is a law that's already in place. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG turned attention to Section 3(6), and asked if the language specifying that the license would "be designed to allow the electronic reading and electronic display of the information" means that there will be a new type of license. MR. HARDENBROOK explained that the aforementioned language was used because of the new electronic driver's licenses. The drafter felt that it would be appropriate to have this be part of the magnetic strip on the back of the driver's license. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN surmised that this special driver's license would be provided upon issuance of a new driver's license or when an individual is convicted of this particular crime. MR. HARDENBROOK explained that currently when an individual is convicted of an alcohol-related crime, the license of that individual is revoked. That individual has to have his or her license reissued. Mr. Hardenbrook related that the sponsor is going to work with the chair to develop a mechanism by which the Alaska Court System and the parole board can communicate with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to avoid the lag time that's currently occurring. 1:42:15 PM REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether an individual convicted of an alcohol-related offense would lose his or her driver's license even if the offense isn't a DWI. MR. HARDENBROOK replied yes, that's the current situation. This legislation is merely specifying that the new license would have the information specified on the license. 1:43:16 PM REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether an individual convicted of an alcohol-related offense who has obtained a new license would still be precluded from buying alcohol. CHAIR ANDERSON posed a hypothetical situation in which an individual who received a DWI 20 years ago receives another in the next couple of months. If that individual were to lose his or her license for 90 days and the license is returned, would the driver's license continue to specify the individual's record. MR. HARDENBROOK clarified that the special mark would only be in effect during the time the individual is on probation or parole for the alcohol-related crime. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD clarified that once the individual is not on probation or parole, he or she can obtain another driver's license without the special mark and consume alcohol. The special mark on the driver's license provides the Department of Public Safety (DPS) the ability to identify these individuals from the rest of society. 1:45:54 PM REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether an individual would lose his or her driver's license for an alcohol-related crime if it didn't involve driving. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD answered that it depends upon the judge. He informed the committee that for domestic violence, one can lose his or her right to drink. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX inquired as to where DPS actually comes into the picture. She suggested that it's actually the restaurant staff and bar owners [who will identify these individuals]. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD agreed that food and beverage establishments are the first line of defense. However, DPS helps enforce these laws. The partnership [between food and beverage establishments and DPS] that already occurs today would continue. Representative Crawford emphasized the need to do something different to address the fact that Alaska leads the nation in alcohol-related crime. 1:48:39 PM REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said, "We can save a lot of lives and make a huge change in what's going on, and that's what I'm asking for you to do." He opined that a difference can be made [with this legislation]. Representative Crawford commented that he is sorry he didn't take more notice of Representative Green's legislation four years ago, and that it took seeing his wife lying on the emergency room table before realizing what a problem this is for everyone. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG surmised then that a 94-year-old individual in a Title 4 premise would have to be carded each time he or she is served a drink. MR. HARDENBROOK replied yes. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that perhaps there should be a cost-benefit analysis of all statutory legislation that is introduced. Representative Rokeberg suggested that probably one of the primary reasons this proposal hasn't been adopted in any other state is because it intrudes on privacy and is an impediment to human interaction. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD stated that HB 190 has nothing to do with an individual's age; it only addresses those who are under court order. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG interjected that the only way to know whether an individual is under court order is by carding the individual. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD agreed, and characterized carding an individual to determine whether he or she is under court order as a small inconvenience. 1:51:56 PM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked if this legislation applies to repeat offenders. He also inquired as to the point at which the [decision is made] to not allow the individual to [purchase] alcohol. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD answered that judges can already decide that an individual can't have that privilege again. CINDY CASHEN, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, thanked the sponsor for the legislation because it addresses a problem that has existed for many years. It's common knowledge that some people are classified as "not to enter or consume alcohol (NEOC)". In the old days, bars and liquor stores would keep a list of NOECs and would be able to check because they knew everyone in town; and law enforcement could keep a check on those individuals as well. However, the state is just too large and [law enforcement, bar staff, and liquor store staff] don't know everyone. Furthermore, the probation dates with the court system have become more complicated and are ever-changing. All of the aforementioned has resulted in many people who abuse their probation. When such individuals are caught, the punishment is merely a slap on the wrist. Ms. Cashen informed the committee that often there are offenders who have repeatedly violated their probation, which is frustrating. Ms. Cashen opined that by bringing this problem to light, folks can work toward a solution that's palatable to everyone. In conclusion, Ms. Cashen related that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence supports this issue. 1:55:49 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG recalled that Ms. Cashen had brought to his attention that judges in the 1st judicial district aren't applying the DUI law evenhandedly but rather are using an old court of appeals' case that allowed offenders to get off with lesser fines. He inquired as to Ms. Cashen's thoughts on the aforementioned. 1:56:59 PM MS. CASHEN characterized HB 190 and [legislation addressing what Representative Rokeberg mentioned] as similar. She indicated agreement with Representative Rokeberg's comments regarding the [1st judicial district]. The issue at hand in HB 190 has been going on for many years. Ms. Cashen related that the sentencing for violating probation often results in more time being tacked onto that already assigned. Occasionally, repeat offenders on probation are put in jail. The aforementioned isn't done often, she indicated, because the Department of Corrections doesn't like [housing that many drunk driving violators]. She clarified that the aforementioned is drawn from her own observations. DUANE BANNOCK, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF), stated that the division is willing to support the proposal [embodied in HB 190], although it has many questions. He related his understanding that in the next few days there will be a good grasp of the number of individuals that this legislation would impact. Still, DMV is poised to produce an [identifying] mark on one of the three types of identification it produces. However, the concern is regarding whether the division will have accurate information as to who is impacted by this proposed change. There is also concern with regard to how the DMV will be able to obtain the information. Mr. Bannock informed the committee that DMV will be attaching a fiscal note to HB 190. 2:00:37 PM REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD announced his intent to pass the cost of issuing a new license on to the perpetrator. He further announced that he would continue to work with the DMV in order to address its concerns. MR. BANNOCK informed the committee that it should be proud to know that Alaska's new digital license is second to none in the nation. BRENDA MOORE, Community Liaison, Christian Health Associates, explained that she became aware of repeat offenders when she worked for an outreach program. She said it was amazing how many offenders were repeat offenders who hadn't received any treatment or education. The aforementioned became very real when the daughter of one of the peer counselors was struck and killed by a drunk driver who had a number of DUIs and was driving with a revoked license. If HB 190 had been in place at the time, Ms. Moore opined that it might have "detoured" him because the driver wouldn't have had a license to present and if he managed to have such, it [would've been marked] such that he wouldn't have been able to purchase liquor. Ms. Moore concluded by asked the committee to support HB 190. CHRIS SCHUTTE, Anchorage Downtown Partnership, informed the committee that the aforementioned organization represents downtown businesses, property owners, and residents in the area. Mr. Schutte said that one of the largest issues facing downtown businesses and residents is the issue of public inebriants. Many of the members of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership view HB 190 as a valuable tool to help these inebriants and get them off the streets. Those chronic inebriants frequent the same establishments and are served until they are incapacitated and then they return to the streets. The Anchorage Downtown Partnership, he related, hopes that HB 190 would help curb the aforementioned. In response to Chair Anderson, Mr. Schutte confirmed that there would be a letter from the Anchorage Downtown Partnership. 2:08:10 PM DOUGLAS B. GRIFFIN, Director, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), Department of Public Safety, said he didn't believe that HB 190 is compatible with existing provisions allowing alcohol to be shipped by written order. Those who ship alcohol to damp communities have to have licenses on file, although no face-to- face inspection occurs. The aforementioned can be addressed, he said. Mr. Griffin informed the committee that currently the ABC Board maintains a list of those package stores who want to do business via written order because these stores need to be kept well informed regarding changes to the local option list. He noted that the ABC Board also provides liquor stores listings of individuals who are convicted bootleggers. Therefore, there is already a mechanism by which those who purchase by written order are screened and thus the legislation would need to address that. Mr. Griffin opined that there will be some operational issues with regard to requesting identification each time an alcoholic beverage is sold, but he viewed the aforementioned as the legislature's policy call. 2:12:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG inquired as to the ramifications if there was a breech of [AS 04.16.160 and AS 04.16.167] in Section 1 of the legislation. He inquired as to the sanctions under Title 4. MR. GRIFFIN answered that he assumed that it would be similar to the current violations imposed on wait staff who [sell alcoholic beverages] without properly checking identification or recognizing the identifying mark on the identification. The aforementioned could result in a misdemeanor and criminal prosecution. Furthermore, there could also be ramifications for the licensee as well. 2:13:58 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked whether the licensee's Title 4 license would ultimately be held in jeopardy. MR. GRIFFIN confirmed that it could lead to that. He characterized it as a progressive thing in most cases. Usually, it's a situation in which the licensee knows that there's a problem and has been notified of such, but hasn't taken any corrective actions. The [situation], he said, certainly could lead to the revocation of the license. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if Mr. Griffin was aware of any private causes of action against a licensee for breech of Title 4 provisions. MR. GRIFFIN said that he wasn't aware of any such causes of action. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD specified that it wasn't his intention to broaden the law further than what it is already when someone sells to an underage individual. Furthermore, the law only applies to those individuals under court order. CHAIR ANDERSON announced that HB 190 would be held over.