Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/15/1995 09:07 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 6 "An Act relating to registration of a motor vehicle and suspension of a driver's license for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine." Senator Halford announced Joe Ambrose from Senator Taylor's office and asked him to join the committee. Mr. Ambrose stated that Senator Taylor is the sponsor of SB 6. It is designed to provide the court system and municipalities throughout Alaska with additional leverage in the collection of fines relating to moving vehicle citations and parking offenses. He also stated that it applies to an individual who fails to appear in court as ordered. This legislation passed the Senate last year on a 17 - 3 vote as SB 166. SB 6 would be a valuable tool for use by the courts in addressing the problems created by those who choose to ignore the law, especially those who fail to make court ordered appearances or to pay fines imposed by the court. The bill is based on statutes from other states. The experience in the State of Washington indicates that over 50% of those who receive notice of possible sanctions, clear up outstanding matters within a week. SB 6 ties together the failure to settle moving violations to the drivers license, and parking violations to vehicle registration. This mirrors the California law. A new fiscal note from the Department of Public Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles indicates a change for additional leased office space for $10.0. The bill continues to be a generator of revenue based on the renewal fees for a suspended license. Co-chair Halford noted that the change from $104.8 to $114.6 is reasonable. Senator Phillips noted a situation that involved a Chugiak resident who received a ticket and was to appear before the court. He claims that he did not receive notice to appear before court due to an incorrect address. Mr. Ambrose responded that this is an option for the court, it is not mandatory. He mentioned that there are over 25,000 outstanding moving violations fines in a given year. The court system was working on the assumption that approximately 10% of those would fall into this system. Mr. Ambrose stated that Senator Taylor's office has received a response from the parking ferries. There have been several POM's generated. The opposition is not to the overall thrust of the bill, but rather to Section 2 which applies to unpaid parking fines and would lead to non- renewal of the vehicle registration. The area of concern is in Anchorage, and in particular, the Anchorage Parking Authority. Section 2 was included last year at the suggestion of several municipal attorneys. The sponsor does not take great ownership in this section, and if it were deleted he would not be upset. Senator Rieger supports the amendment and asked what it would do to the fiscal note. He stated that the Anchorage Parking Authority cites for improper placement or tagging of license plates. Senator Donley stated that he has a draft amendment, and recommended holding the bill. He stated that there is a problem when ticketed by the Anchorage Parking Authority, in that there are no appellate rights. A prohibitive fee is required to challenge the ticket. When ticketed by a peace officer or a state trooper, one has the right to go to court and defend themselves. He stated that when people are ticketed, based on state rules, they should be provided with the same due process that the state provides. Senator Zharoff asked if Alaska would have reciprocity with other states regarding the parking and moving violations. Mr. Ambrose responded that he didn't know about parking violations, but that there is an existing arrangement whereby, if the State runs a records check and there is an outstanding warrant, out-of-state, it can be executed. Senator Zharoff then quoted Section 3, "When the person appears in court or pays the required fine, the court shall terminate the suspension imposed under this subsection and provide the department and the person with written notice of the termination." He noted that this process is very slow. He stated that what should take minutes, often takes weeks or months. He asked if this particular problem could be remedied? Mr. Ambrose stated that he could not fix that problem in this bill. Mr. Ambrose reiterated that the intent of the legislation is to give the court additional leverage. If there is a failure to appear in court, the court at this time can issue a warrant. The fact remains that there are so many of these cases that it does not happen. Senator Donley issued his proposed amendment. Co-chair Halford asked if there was conflict in his amendment insofar as removing Section 2 from SB 6. Senator Donley responded there was no conflict. Senator Phillips moved to delete Section 2 from SB 6. No objection having been raised, Section 2 has been deleted from the bill and will be reflected in a CS. Discussion was had on Senator Donley's proposed amendment. Co-chair Halford asked that Senators Zharoff and Donley work with Senator Taylor in redrafting the bill. The committee agreed to hold the bill to the next meeting, Friday, March 17th.