Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/25/1993 05:00 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 61:  LOWER ALCOHOL LIMIT TO 0.08 FOR OMVI'S                               
  his testimony by stating that HB 61 reduces the legal                        
  definition of intoxication for DWI from .10 percent to .08                   
  percent.  He explained that although the reduction appeared                  
  minor, it would improve highway safety.  He said there are                   
  five other states that currently use .08 percent in their                    
  laws.  Studies in California indicated traffic fatalities                    
  have been reduced due to implementation of the .08 percent                   
  Number 037                                                                   
  COMPANIES, testified in favor of HB 61.  He felt the purpose                 
  of the bill was to prevent loss of lives due to alcohol                      
  impairment.  He mentioned the findings in the legislation                    
  which had to do with the presumptions being impaired as                      
  opposed to being intoxicated.                                                
  Number 128                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked HOWARD BURGER, a witness for the                 
  Alaska State Troopers, what the position of the Alaska State                 
  Troopers on HB 61.                                                           
  MR. BURGER replied that the department supports the                          
  legislation, however, they suggested modifications.  He said                 
  that this bill would allow them to prosecute more                            
  successfully the borderline DWI offenders.  Most of the DWIs                 
  arrested are above the .10 limit, but for those that are                     
  close, they are routinely dismissed.  This will allow them                   
  to put a few more people in jail, force a few more drunks                    
  off the road, and teach them a lesson.                                       
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked Mr. Burger if he felt the state                  
  was enforcing the current laws reflecting the .10 limit.                     
  MR. BURGER stated that he felt it was adequate for the                       
  number of staff they now employ.                                             
  Number 150                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, and also speaking as a spokesman for the                        
  statewide organization of the ALASKA CABARET, HOTEL,                         
  RESTAURANT AND RETAILERS ASSOCIATION (CHARR), felt the bill                  
  would intimidate responsible consumers of alcohol more than                  
  the irresponsible.  A majority of folks arrested are well                    
  beyond the .10 limit level, they are at .15 and .17.  These                  
  abusers will continue to operate in an irresponsible manner,                 
  according to Mr. Neely.                                                      
  MR. NEELY also stated that it would be retroactively                         
  enforced in that he did not feel people would be picked up                   
  at .08 level of intoxication for DWI, they would have been                   
  involved in an accident and testing would then be done.  He                  
  felt it would dilute the law enforcement efforts forcing                     
  officers to spend time enforcing DWI offenses and other                      
  criminal activities, including the arrest of heavy drinkers.                 
  Number 188                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE NORDLUND commented on Mr. Neely's comments.                   
  He stated this would pick up a marginal increase of                          
  offenders.  He felt there was no reason not to prosecute                     
  those marginal folks.                                                        
  Number 210                                                                   
  HOTEL, RESTAURANT AND RETAILERS ASSOCIATION), expressed her                  
  concerns that by far a large majority of offenders are well                  
  over the .10 limit, forcing police to deal with even lower                   
  levels.  By lowering the level to .08 you are forcing                        
  troopers and local police to cast their nets over an even                    
  wider area than they already have to deal with.  She felt                    
  the state would be far better off to devote more resources                   
  to the state troopers and the local police to enforce the                    
  .10 that is currently on the books, and to really do                         
  something to people who are stopped as repeat offenders.                     
  She mentioned legislation introduced by Representative                       
  Mulder that does have penalties for repeat offenders and                     
  said that is the sort of thing their organization believes                   
  should get passed.                                                           
  REPRESENTATIVE NORDLUND said he wasn't sure they would be                    
  casting an even wider net; if there would be any impact at                   
  all it would be on the prosecution side.                                     
  Number 259                                                                   
  KAREY SMITH testified that she had been hit by a drunk                       
  driver and didn't see where it would hurt anyone by lowering                 
  level.  Prevention and safety is what is most important.                     
  Number 283                                                                   
  NEILL RAYMOND, representing the NATIONAL HIGHWAY SAFETY                      
  ADMINISTRATION, testified that they were in support of the                   
  .08 limit.  He said a person begins to become impaired at                    
  .04 and, although a person feels okay, essential driving                     
  abilities become affected.  Commercial drivers can be                        
  convicted at .04 limit, so it is there for a reason.  Five                   
  states currently have .08 and have had dramatic crash                        
  reduction due to the .08 limit.  Specifically, in                            
  California, fatalities have been reduced by 12 percent since                 
  the .08 limit was introduced in January 1990.  He felt that                  
  the .08 limit would instill fear into the drunk drivers and                  
  prevent more from attempting to drive.                                       
  ASSOCIATION, commented that they strongly endorse HB 61.  He                 
  felt there was little doubt that .08 individuals are                         
  extremely dangerous on the highway.  As a certified                          
  instructor in the apprehension of DWI drivers, he pointed                    
  out a couple facts:  individuals become impaired as low as                   
  .03 when reactions start to slow down.  At .05 they start                    
  taking risks, and at .08 everybody's vision is impaired.  An                 
  individual driving sober down the road may be able to see                    
  the hazard and react in a certain amount of time.  A person                  
  at .08 cannot see the hazard as well as a sober person and                   
  he may be taking a risk in driving faster, which he wouldn't                 
  under normal conditions, and reactions are extremely slow.                   
  These variables together add considerable risk and these                     
  people should be removed from the highways.                                  
  Number 423                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, stated his industry did not condone drinking                    
  while under the influence of alcohol or the abuse of                         
  alcohol.  Over the years they have supported laws which                      
  increase penalties for DWI, supported laws which increased                   
  the drinking age from 19 to 21, supported laws for bars to                   
  place signs in bars which describe possible hazards of                       
  drinking alcohol, support local option laws which allow                      
  communities to vote to be wet or dry, and they will support                  
  any law that will reasonably help curb the abuse of alcohol.                 
  He did not feel HB 61 would help curb the abuse of alcohol.                  
  He commented that some may be surprised that their industry                  
  would feel that way.                                                         
  MR. URION read from an article written by Ms. Candy                          
  Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).                   
  In her article, she mentioned that society no longer                         
  considers impaired driving socially acceptable.  In relation                 
  to the .08, the legislation ignores the real core of the                     
  problem, individuals who, despite new laws and change in                     
  attitude, continue to drink and drive.  She didn't feel                      
  lowering the blood alcohol content would make a difference                   
  to offenders.                                                                
  Number 502                                                                   
  would align themselves with those who have indicated that                    
  what should be addressed is not the marginal drivers out                     
  there who are between the .08 and the .10, but those that                    
  require the focus of attention are the .10 and higher.                       
  Enforcement should be concentrated on and increasing the                     
  severity of penalties. There is currently legislation which                  
  will do that.  Public awareness should be increased in the                   
  penalties that do exist and there should be a certainty of                   
  arrest.  They should know they will be caught, arrested, and                 
  prosecuted and that would go a long way toward making                        
  highways more safe rather than going after this small group                  
  of marginal people.                                                          
  Number 544                                                                   
  CHAIR FOSTER stated that HB 61 would be held in committee                    
  for further consideration; specifically, he would like to                    
  give a few more people who called his office from his                        
  district the chance to testify by teleconference in the                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects