Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/03/2003 01:32 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 213-PROVISIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR MASEK announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  213,  "An Act  relating  to  a  provisional                                                               
driver's  license and  to  issuance of  a  driver's license;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
Number 0072                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  MASEK told  the members  she  has serious  reservations                                                               
about this is  kind of legislation.  She said  current Alaska law                                                               
allows teens  to obtain a  learner's [permit]  at the age  of 14.                                                               
That gives a  teen up to two  years to learn how  to drive before                                                               
turning  16 years  old, when  he/she  can obtain  a license  with                                                               
parental consent.   She said many  teens do not obtain  a license                                                               
[permit] until they reach the age  of 16 and are required to have                                                               
a learner's  [permit] for  at least  six months.   She  said that                                                               
those  existing provisions  of  law take  care  of the  graduated                                                               
criteria that  this bill's sponsor  is trying to establish.   Co-                                                               
Chair Masek  said that this bill  simply does not make  any sense                                                               
to  her.     She  said   the  National  Highway   Traffic  Safety                                                               
Administration  (NHTSA) study  and  statistics  that the  sponsor                                                               
featured to  justify the implementation  of this bill  cite three                                                               
reasons  for a  large number  of  accidents for  this age  group.                                                               
Those  factors that  work  together  to cause  a  high number  of                                                               
accidents  among teens  are  inexperience, risk-taking  behavior,                                                               
and immaturity.                                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR MASEK told the members  that she believes there are only                                                               
four [changes]  worthy of considerations in  amending current law                                                               
related to teen drivers.   She offered the following suggestions:                                                               
[change] the age at which a  student can get a learner's [permit]                                                               
to 16 years old,  change it so the permit is  for one year rather                                                               
than  for  six months,  require  driver's  education classes  for                                                               
youths under 18 years old,  and prohibit teen driving between the                                                               
hours of  midnight and 6  a.m.   She also recommended  revoking a                                                               
driver's  license for  speeding  or reckless  endangerment.   Co-                                                               
Chair Masek said if there is  a comparison between Alaska and the                                                               
other states, it  is not relevant in the rural  areas where a lot                                                               
of youths  have to  travel quite  far to  a job  and do  not have                                                               
public transportation.  It would be  a huge burden on the parents                                                               
to assume the role of getting kids to work, she said.                                                                           
Number 0358                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH noted  that one of the  core components of                                                               
the graduated license  in most states is that youths  [who have a                                                               
provisional license] may  not carry a person under the  age of 21                                                               
years old  [unless it is a  parent or legal guardian].   He asked                                                               
why  the  age  requirement  of  25 years  old  is  used  in  this                                                               
Number 0380                                                                                                                     
LINDA SYLVESTER, Staff to  Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, presented a  proposed committee substitute for                                                               
HB  213   [unspecified  version]  on  behalf   of  Representative                                                               
Weyhrauch,  the  bill's sponsor.    She  told the  committee  the                                                               
rationale for  increasing the age from  21 to 25 years  of age is                                                               
that a person  who is 21 years old  is closer in age to  a 16- or                                                               
17-year-old.   It  was decided  that 25  years of  age is  really                                                               
another age group.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KOOKESH stated  that  the sponsor  is relying  on                                                               
data that is  being presented from other states,  and has adopted                                                               
language that  is almost verbatim  from other  state's [graduated                                                               
driver's license]  law, with  the exception  of changing  the 21-                                                               
year-old  to  25-year-old  passenger   language.    He  told  the                                                               
committee   he  does   not  understand   the  rationale   and  is                                                               
uncomfortable with this change.                                                                                                 
MS. SYLVESTER replied  that the idea behind selecting  the age of                                                               
25 is to  assure that a passenger  in a car with  a novice driver                                                               
is  someone akin  to  a parent.    The idea  is  to have  someone                                                               
removed from the peer group who  is a young adult.  Ms. Sylvester                                                               
said that  this language  would assure  the greatest  safety, but                                                               
the sponsor  is willing  to consider  a change in  the age.   She                                                               
added  that   the  [25-year-old]  age  requirement   is  part  of                                                               
Washington State's law.                                                                                                         
Number 0538                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE FATE shared  that he has raised  four children who                                                               
have all gone through the era  of "inability to make a judgment."                                                               
He said he fears this legislation will criminalize every 16-                                                                    
year-old who  has a provisional  license, because  there probably                                                               
is not a  single 16-year-old who at some time  or another have an                                                               
[underage]  passenger  in  the  car  in  the  first  six  months.                                                               
Representative Fate said  he believes that some  of this language                                                               
is too  draconian.  He  told the committee  if the state  were to                                                               
offer really good driver's education, he said he believes a 16-                                                                 
year-old  could be  responsible behind  the wheel  of a  vehicle.                                                               
Representative  Fate summarized  his  comments by  saying he  has                                                               
real concern about this bill.                                                                                                   
Number 0653                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MASEK announced  that HB 213 will be  held in committee,                                                               
and a subcommittee may be appointed  to work on the bill prior to                                                               
the next hearing.                                                                                                               

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