Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532
05/07/2006 01:00 PM FINANCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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2:28:01 PM SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 190(JUD) "An Act relating to the purchase of alcoholic beverages and to access to licensed premises; relating to civil liability for certain persons accessing licensed premises; 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 and relating to fees for the marked license; and requiring the surrender and cancellation of driver's licenses under certain circumstances." This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. PAUL LABOLLE, Staff to Representative Richard Foster, testified that this bill would attempt to reduce incidents of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Although Alaska currently has strict DUI statutes, approximately 30 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involve a DUI. This bill would prohibit those convicted of a DUI from consuming alcohol as a term of sentencing and probation. The term Restriction on Consumption (ROC) would appear on their drivers' license. The bill would not require an alcohol vendor to card every customer, but the bill includes a provision allowing for a $1000 civil penalty to be levied by a vendor that found an individual to be in violation of the restriction while attempting to purchase alcohol. 2:30:18 PM Senator Bunde explained the civil penalty provision as it related to selling alcohol to a minor. In that case, a vendor who determines an individual attempting to purchase alcohol is not of age may assess a $1000 trespass fee. The method had worked well to discourage attempts by minors to purchase alcohol in Anchorage. 2:31:13 PM Co-Chair Green asked if the display of "ROC" on the drivers' license is currently allowed. Mr. Labolle replied that this bill would allow for the display. 2:31:30 PM Senator Bunde was willing to support the bill, but anticipated that older DUI offenders were unlikely to be carded when purchasing alcohol. He supposed the threat of a $1000 fine could provide enough of a deterrent effect to discourage DUI offenders from attempting to procure alcohol. 2:32:39 PM Co-Chair Green asked if Members supported the ROC designation on an offender's drivers' license. 2:32:40 PM Senator Dyson commented on the "significant" and possibly "radical" measures contained in the bill. He expressed concern regarding the indeterminate fiscal note, and asked if the anticipated cost to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was known. 2:33:32 PM Mr. Labolle responded that the DMV had testified that implementation of this program is within its capability and "easy to do". The fiscal note assigns all costs and fess associated with the printing of the ROC designation to the DUI offender. 2:34:06 PM Senator Dyson continued, asking if it would be the responsibility of the DUI offender to go to the DMV and request that the ROC designation be printed on their license. 2:34:40 PM Mr. Labolle affirmed. 2:34:56 PM Co-Chair Green asked if the courts currently restrict consumption. Mr. Labolle replied positively. 2:35:11 PM Senator Dyson recalled previous technical complications with relaying information between the courts and the DMV, and asked if their computer systems were now compatible. 2:35:52 PM Mr. Labolle deferred to the Alaska Court System or the DMV for a response. 2:36:06 PM Co-Chair Wilken referenced a letter from the president of the Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) [copy not provided] that claimed the bill "will require bars and liquor stores to purchase expensive electronic equipment and hire personnel to operate that equipment." He asked regarding this "equipment". Mr. Labolle understood the letter was out of date. 2:37:04 PM HEATHER BRADY, Staff to Representative Harry Crawford, testified that CHARR had misunderstood the provisions. While the bill requires the DMV to make the ROC restriction a "scanable" item when possible, it would also require a visual display of the restriction on the license, so no additional equipment would be necessary. 2:37:54 PM Co-Chair Wilken spoke to a memorandum from legislative legal council dated May 3, 2006 [copy not provided] that questioned, and possibly challenged, the bill itself. He requested a response to that letter. 2:38:21 PM Mr. Labolle advised that the concerns addressed in the memorandum related to a drafting disagreement between Division of Legal and Research Services and the Department of Law. He deferred to Doug Wooliver. 2:39:04 PM DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney, Alaska Court System, had not seen the memorandum in question. He understood the drafter's concern to "capture municipal ordinances". Nearly half of all misdemeanor DUIs are charged under Anchorage municipal code, not under State statutes. 2:40:09 PM Co-Chair Green suggested the memorandum asked how the Department of Administration would garner all information on previous DUIs from other states, and how the Department would identify those on probation and implement the provisions. 2:40:36 PM Mr. Wooliver was not aware of how the DMV learns of DUIs committed in other states. 2:41:02 PM Mr. Wooliver responded to an earlier question regarding an electronic connection to relay judgments between the Alaska Court System and the DMV. He informed that the two agencies did not currently have such a system, but were working on a multiple-agency connection so the courts could share information with other affected departments more readily. 2:41:45 PM Senator Dyson summarized the current method of transferring information in which one agency must print out the information and the receiving agency then must reenter the information into a separate system. This information is of high importance to the DMV as well as police officers, who may need to know as quickly as possible if a warrant has been issued for a person, if a home has a foster child, or other important factors in law enforcement. He asked if a computerized system to facilitate information sharing was "months or years away". 2:43:11 PM Mr. Wooliver estimated the State was years away from implementing the ideal system, although each year saw improvements. It is a very costly project, and all departments involved must receive upgrades. For example, while the Court's computer system has been improved, the receiver must also have upgrades to take delivery of this information. 2:44:09 PM Senator Dyson asked if completion of the upgrades was two, five, or ten years away. 2:44:24 PM Mr. Wooliver projected conclusion within a five year range. However, other needs and priorities, such as bail conditions and collections issues, would continue to be identified and addressed. 2:44:54 PM Senator Bunde clarified the process by which a person would obtain an ROC designated drivers' license. If, during sentencing, a restriction on consumption was placed on an individual, that person must surrender their license in court upon sentencing. That person must then go to the DMV within two days and apply for a new, restricted license. The process was not as "voluntary" as it may have been portrayed. Senator Bunde asked about the provisions inserted by the House Judiciary Committee that had caused concern to members of the Division of Legal and Research Services. 2:45:57 PM Mr. Labolle located the language in subsection (a) of Sec.04.16.160. Privilege to purchase alcoholic beverages., added by Section 2 on page 2, lines 9 and 10, and in AS 28.15.191(g) added by Section 7 on page 4, lines 5 through 7. A sponsor amendment was offered during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the adopted amendment was an attempt to broaden the language to include as many violations as possible. 2:47:06 PM Senator Bunde asked the sponsor's opinion regarding the ability to enforce the sections described in the memorandum. Mr. Labolle had not received the memorandum. Senator Bunde was inclined to support the bill, and asked if deleting the provisions in question would remove the requirement for a concurrence vote. Mr. Labolle assumed the deletion would remove the requirement for concurrence, but would exclude approximately 50 percent of DUI convictions, those charged under the Anchorage ordinance, which are included under the current language. 2:48:09 PM Senator Bunde suggested removing only the portion of the provision that referred to out-of-state convictions, as it would be easier to facilitate communications between the State DMV and the Municipality of Anchorage than between states. 2:48:27 PM Mr. Labolle would not oppose the language, and had prepared a draft of the amendment. 2:49:05 PM DUANNE BANNOCK, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Administration, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, that the Division struggles with both "practical" and "philosophical" issues. He explained that he could not avoid preparing an indeterminate fiscal note, as he did not know the number of drivers who would be affected by the proposed regulation. Mr. Bannock was also concerned that the definition of the "restriction on consumption" was not clear in the bill, and enforcement could be an issue. He asked if the ROC designation would prohibit a person from both entering a licensed establishment and purchasing alcohol, or if the restriction would be solely on the consumption of alcohol. 2:53:03 PM Mr. Bannock directed attention to Sections 4 and 6, which instruct the DMV to cancel the drivers' license or identification card of a person charged with a DUI offense upon notification from the court. He stated that the bill was unclear as to whether the license was to be surrendered to the arresting officer, the court, or simply cancelled in the DMV database. After the required cancellation, the bill did not specify the terms of the cancellation, or if that affected a person's driving privilege. The bill also failed to address other aspects of licensing, and he exampled a case of a person who retained their original "canceled" license, and asked if it would be the responsibility of the DMV to monitor the length of the ROC, then "uncancel" a license upon expiration of that period. This would be a burdensome requirement of the Division. 2:55:31 PM Mr. Bannock was "worried" that the DMV would not be able to satisfy the intent of the bill, which he understood to be the reduction of "death and injury caused by drunk drivers." He opined that the proposed legislation would not stop lawbreakers from obtaining and consuming alcohol. It would only provide a visual notice of the court order. Most adults are not carded when purchasing alcohol. He therefore had no expectation that the proposed legislation would accomplish the bill's intended goals. 2:56:31 PM Senator Bunde asked if it was a crime to drive with a revoked license. 2:57:03 PM Mr. Bannock clarified that the language speaks to "cancellation" of a license, not revocation. His concern in that regard involved a situation in which a person's license was cancelled and they never went to the DMV to get their restricted ROC- imprinted license. If the period of revocation had expired but that individual had not gone in to the DMV to get a new license, was that person driving with a cancelled license in violation of the law? Mr. Bannock continued that in every other scenario in which the DMV becomes involved, there is an action the driver must take at the DMV that triggers reinstatement of driving privileges. For example, if a person is involved in an accident that impacts their legal ability to drive, they must present the DMV with proof of insurance, restitution or other documentation before their driving privileges are reinstated. This bill does not have a requirement for such action, so the burden would be on the DMV to monitor restrictions and their expirations. 2:59:13 PM Senator Olson realized the complexity related to this bill and the burden to the Division. He asked if Mr. Bannock anticipated a reduction in DUI offenses if this bill became law. 2:59:46 PM Mr. Bannock responded that he "regretfully" did not expect the proposed legislation would reduce DUIs. Discussions within the Department did not identify any strong correlation between the restrictions in the legislation and a reduction of DUIs. 3:00:20 PM Senator Olson did not agree. 3:00:23 PM Senator Bunde asked if the restriction on consumption would appear only on the physical drivers' license or if it would also be in the database used by police officers during routine stops. 3:01:06 PM Mr. Bannock replied that he assumed the restriction would appear in both locations. This would be an important factor in the legislation, as he anticipated many people would not be compliant with this law. Therefore, only law enforcement personnel would have access to the computerized information, and any purveyor of alcohol would have to rely on the printed ROC on the identification. 3:01:53 PM Senator Bunde remarked that the bill in its current form has potential positive effects. If a person with an ROC designated license happened to be carded when purchasing alcohol, they would be subject to a $1000 fine. Additionally, if a person who failed to go to the DMV and apply for their ROC license was stopped while driving, they would be subject to arrest for driving without a valid license. Mr. Bannock agreed, a driver could be arrested for failing to obtain an ROC license, even if the restriction period had ended. 3:02:41 PM Co-Chair Wilken aligned himself with Mr. Bannock's concerns about the bill. He continued that the legislation needed refining and further efforts to ensure it would accomplish its goals before it became law. He would not support the bill in its current form, but encouraged continued efforts on the part of the sponsor. 3:03:30 PM Senator Dyson identified with Co-Chair Wilken comments. He was uncomfortable with the access issues the proposed legislation raised. He identified the goal of the legislation as preventing a person who was restricted from drinking from consuming alcohol, not necessarily restricting them from the premise where alcohol is served. He contended the bill did not address his concern. 3:05:02 PM Senator Bunde wanted to support this bill, but understood the will of the Committee The bill was HELD in Committee.