Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/08/1995 01:35 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE March 8, 1995 1:35 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Gary Davis, Chairman Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair Representative Jeannette James Representative Eileen MacLean Representative Tom Brice Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Bill Williams MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HB 161: "An Act relating to civil liability for guest passengers on an aircraft or watercraft; and providing for an effective date." HEARD AND HELD * HB 203: "An Act relating to the meaning of the phrase "previously convicted" as that phrase applies to the operation of a motor vehicle, commercial motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft while intoxicated." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE * HB 57: "An Act relating to driver's licensing; and providing for an effective date." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing) WITNESS REGISTER PATTY SWENSON, Legislative Assistant Representative Con Bunde State Capitol, Room 108 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: 465-4843 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided sponsor statement for HB 161 JOHN GEORGE National Association of Independent Insurers 5328 Fritz Cove Road Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: 789-0172 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 161 MIKE FORD, Attorney Division of Legal Services Legislative Affairs Agency 130 Seward Street, Ste. 409 Juneau Alaska, 99801-2105 Telephone: 465-2450 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 161 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811 Telephone: 465-3428 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 203 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services Division of Motor Vehicles Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 20020 Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: 465-2650 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 57 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 24 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: 465-4931 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 57 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant Representative Joe Green State Capitol, Room 24 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: 465-4931 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided sponsor statement for HB 57 MARK JOHNSON, Chief Emergency Medical Services Department of Health and Social Services P.O. Box 110616 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0616 Telephone: 463-5807 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 57 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 161 SHORT TITLE: AIRCRAFT/WATERCRAFT GUEST PASSENGER LAW SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE,Toohey JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/08/95 271 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/08/95 272 (H) TRA, JUD 03/06/95 (H) TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17 03/08/95 (H) TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 203 SHORT TITLE: PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS FOR DWI OFFENSES SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/27/95 493 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/27/95 493 (H) TRANSPORTATION, JUDICIARY 02/27/95 494 (H) 2 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (ADM) 02/27/95 494 (H) 3 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (CORR, LAW, DPS) 02/27/95 494 (H) GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER 03/08/95 (H) TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 57 SHORT TITLE: LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVERS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GREEN,Bunde JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/06/95 35 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/16/95 35 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/16/95 35 (H) TRANSPORTATION, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/19/95 90 (H) COSPONSOR(S): BUNDE 03/08/95 (H) TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 95-7, SIDE A Number 000 The House Transportation Committee was called to order by Chairman Gary Davis at 1:35 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Davis, Masek, Sanders and Williams. CHAIRMAN GARY DAVIS announced the agenda was HB 161, HB 203 and HB 57 in that order. HTRA - 03/08/95 HB 161 - AIRCRAFT/WATERCRAFT GUEST PASSENGER LAW Number 019 PATTY SWENSON, Legislative Assistant to Representative Con Bunde, stated she was here to testify on HB 161. She explained HB 161 was designed to limit the liability of an owner or operator of an aircraft or watercraft for injuries to passengers when the owner or operator is not compensated for transportation. She explained when the owner of a boat or plane is accompanied by a friend or acquaintance on trips, the owner of that craft assumes liability. She stated the risks should be shared by all participants. She said HB 161 does not expect passengers of an air or watercraft to give up their right to expect safe operation. Ms. Swenson explained that when a pilot or boat driver behaves in a grossly negligent manner, they are fully liable for injuries regardless of the passing of HB 161. Ms. Swenson said according to Patty Madison, who is the Accident Prevention Program Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are several thousand private aircraft pilots currently operating in Alaska with only 130 accidents last year. Ms. Swenson added that all accidents are not considered crashes. If a small plane is taxiing and hits a runway light this is considered an accident. However, a plane in flight that loses an engine is not necessarily considered an accident. She indicated her point is, there are comparatively few accidents in Alaska when considering the amount of flying that is done. She listed other states with similar legislation; Oregon, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, California, Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia. She explained these states have significantly lower flying hours compared to the pilots of Alaska. She noted according to FAA statistics, the medium hours for a private pilot in the Lower 48 are 10-12 hours, and for Alaska the hours are over 100. Ms. Swenson indicated in other states where pilots have lower flying hours, they are able to afford the type of protection HB 161 would provide. Alaskan pilots who fly more frequently, should be protected unless they act in a grossly negligent manner. She explained that currently aircraft insurance is not mandatory. Ms. Swenson explained aircraft insurance may be purchased two ways; insurance with passenger liability, or without. MS. SWENSON pointed out if an aircraft owner chooses to purchase insurance covering the occupants of the aircraft, then everyone in and out of the plane would be covered in the event of an accident. However, if the pilot elects not to purchase insurance for his occupants, then only the people outside of the plane are covered in the event of an accident. She indicated if an owner does not have insurance and the occupants are injured in any way in an accident that is not due to the owner's gross negligence, the family of the guest passenger can sue the pilot, leaving the pilot, owner and family with nothing. She indicated if HB 161 passes, it would prevent the family of a pilot from losses due to anything other than gross negligence. Number 083 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK expressed her approval of HB 161. REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked for clarification on the difference from the intent of HB 161 and obtaining auto insurance. MS. SWENSON explained when HB 161 was presented last year, the same question was asked. She stated it was her belief that "aircraft in Alaska is not as necessary as a car is." She explained a car will transport a person to places closer, or not accessible by plane; "places too far to walk, to close to fly to." She reiterated a car is a more necessary mode of transportation. Ms. Swenson acknowledged Mr. John George who would inform the committee on the details of the bill as well as presenting testimony on HB 161. Number 108 JOHN GEORGE stated he represented the National Association of Independent Insurers. He explained he was here at the request of Representative Con Bunde, prime sponsor of HB 161. Mr. George stated he was a former director of Insurance for the state of Alaska and a former risk manager for the state. He pointed out that his background would be beneficial to his testimony. He addressed Representative Sanders' question dealing with auto insurance and how it differs from what HB 161 proposes. He explained that an automobile insurance policy automatically covers passengers; however, aircraft insurance can be purchased with seat liability or without. If purchased without the seat liability, the passenger is not covered. He added without the seat liability, the cost of coverage is much cheaper. He mentioned there was a dilemma when a person owns an aircraft and has purchased the lesser expensive liability coverage that covers anyone hit by the plane in the event of a crash and a friend says, "let's go fishing" and the pilot explains he does not have insurance to cover his friend. Mr. George explained the pilot would have to purchase extra liability insurance in order to take his friend fishing. He explained if the guest passenger, the person wanting to go fishing says he will pay for the extra insurance, then the pilot is essentially chartering his aircraft and could inevitably lose his pilots license. Mr. George explained there was an additional cost to the owner of the airplane to provide the required insurance needed to transport people in his aircraft. Mr. George added if the pilot decides to "chance it," the pilot and his family are liable and can be sued. Mr. George mentioned this scenario can also be applied to watercraft. He exemplified someone using a Lund skiff or other small boat; if the people using this skiff are renters and do not have a home owners policy covering their liability for small boats and a person wants to go fishing with them, the same scenario applies. The boat operators do not have specific insurance and feel they would not do a lot of damage to a third party, so they elect not to purchase third party liability insurance. Mr. George explained if people are injured on their boat, the owners can be sued. He indicated HB 161 provides an opportunity for operators of water and aircraft who want to take passengers, but do not want to incur additional expenses, to do so. He added if insurance is purchased, then the coverage extends to the passengers on the airplane; however, if the pilot elects not to purchase the insurance covering their passengers, then unless the pilot is found to be grossly negligent; i.e., drunk or commit an intentional act, the pilot cannot be sued. Number 160 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK asked if the insurance can be extended out to sled dog team owners as well. MR. GEORGE said "anything is possible." It could be added to HB 161. He indicated he was not aware of anyone who has sled dog liability insurance, unless it is covered under their home owners policy. He felt the more rural lifestyle a person lives, the less likely that person is to have a home owners policy. CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked for confirmation on the availability of aircraft liability insurance for passengers, and whether or not it was cost prohibitive. MR. GEORGE indicated that cost prohibitive was "all relative." He stated it was an additional and fairly expensive cost only covering the pilots' passengers. CHAIRMAN DAVIS proposed a scenario where a pilot already had the insurance and crashed injuring his passengers and the crash was caused by circumstances beyond the pilot's control, such as a propeller falling off or some other form of mechanical failure. He asked if this happened directly after the plane was released from an annual inspection, how would the insurance apply to a case such as this? MR. GEORGE explained if the pilot or owner was negligent, then his insurance would pay. However, if it was just released from its annual inspection and a third party had completed the maintenance and neglected to check all the nuts and bolts on the propeller, that person would be liable as well. CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if the intent of HB 161 is to insert information assumed in statute regarding whether or not the pilot was negligent. MR. GEORGE affirmed Chairman Davis' example. He added there are cases where the pilot does not have passenger liability insurance and they go out and attempt a landing on a dirt strip and they hit a pothole and lose the landing gear and someone gets injured, the pilot can be sued. CHAIRMAN DAVIS called attention to the definitions of negligence from Alaska Statutes enclosed in the bill packet. He asked for clarification when determining whether a person is negligent or not. Number 218 MR. GEORGE explained that with commercial aircraft there is what is called "admitted liability." Mr. George depicted a scenario whereby a person flies with Alaska Airlines and the plane crashes and that passenger sues Alaska Airlines and their insurance company will respond. He explained whether Alaska Airlines was negligent or not is not as important as the "high expectations" that a passenger assumes when they board the aircraft. He continued in the event of an accident or mishap, then the airlines' insurance assumes responsibilities. Mr. George differentiated the negligence situation with commercial airlines and with private pilots. Number 226 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS stated that his expectations are the same regardless of the airline. He inquired as to the possibility of a passenger signing a waiver stating they are aware of the risks in flying with an uninsured pilot. MR. GEORGE explained a waiver can be signed by a passenger, and demanded by the pilot. However, it is uncertain as to whether or not the waiver will hold up in court. He noted there are numerous incidents where due to a misunderstanding on the passenger's part of the implications of the waiver, they will not hold up in court. He noted the waivers can be helpful, but not definitive. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS inquired if HB 161 passes, how will people know whether or not the pilot has insurance. He suggested a sticker placed on the door indicating whether or not the pilot has insurance might be beneficial. Representative Sanders stated he was under the assumption all pilots had insurance. MR. GEORGE explained that the lack of proof of insurance could be a shortcoming of the bill and the pilot needs to indicate whether or not he has insurance for passengers. Mr. George proposed the signing of a waiver along with the change in the Alaska Statute would make it more obvious to the passenger than a sticker or some sort of indication would be beneficial. He stated he has no problem with people having notice as to the extent of coverage the pilot has. CHAIRMAN DAVIS said Representative Sanders concern is commonly known as inherent risk and analogized that when a person is running up someone's snow covered steps, there is inherent risk that the person doing the running is liable and responsible for their actions. He explained if you're going to get into an airplane with anyone, whether they are fully insured or not, it should be inherently known that a certain amount of risk exists. Chairman Davis cautioned anyone of the complications that arise when a person makes assumptions. MR. GEORGE indicated he was familiar with the scenario where a pilot has made it clear that he does not have liability insurance. He stated this does not automatically protect the pilot. Mr. George theorized if the pilot accurately explained his insurance status, he would not be sued by the passenger or their family. Number 298 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS reiterated his question as to the possibility of a system similar to auto insurance and would it be financially impossible for the pilot to afford. MR. GEORGE explained it would be a significant additional expense. He added with aircraft insurance, the pilot or owner buys seat liability insurance. He explained if a plane has six seats, a pilot or owner can buy insurance for one or as many seats as he desires. He further explained if the pilot feels he does not need to insure all six seats and only buys coverage for two people and then takes a third person, he does run the risk of being sued by that third passenger. He indicated that the insurance for pilots has traditionally been a separate coverage and not an automatic coverage policy. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS reiterated that there are inherent responsibilities when operating an aircraft. He stated if the pilots are not responsible for their passengers, then what is the difference in their responsibility of driving people around in cars. MR. GEORGE stated he could not address that question directly, but if he was in a situation where he had an airplane, he would elect not to buy the seat liability insurance and not take a passenger in his aircraft. He added it is a dilemma when a friend wants to go and the pilot states he does not have the insurance. Mr. George depicted a scenario where if it was a matter of life or death that a person had to be transported by a pilot without the proper insurance, the pilot can elect not to take the person. CHAIRMAN DAVIS thanked Mr. George and introduced Ms. Patty Swenson. He asked Ms. Swenson if Representative Sanders point about the possibility of some notice to passengers of insurance or the lack of, was brought up in a previous debate. MS. SWENSON indicated there was a decision not to apply pilot insurance as car insurance mostly due to the notion that people assume a certain amount of risk equal to being a passenger in a vehicle or boat. She indicated that the passenger has a choice as to whether they want to get in the vehicle or not. She mentioned the possibility of signing a waiver. Ms. Swenson informed the committee she had previously spoken with Larry Strollie, Regional Manager for EMPCO, and was informed by him that a court case did exist involving a passenger in a rented plane from Elmendorf Aeroclub; this person had signed a bodily damage waiver prior to flying. She mentioned the plane crashed and the passenger died. The family successfully sued the pilot because the passenger did not sign a waiver that included the possibility of death. She said when a situation arises where there are thousands of planes in Alaska, not all the pilots are going to pick up a standard waiver or have a lawyer on hand to draft up a waiver before the pilots carry passengers in their aircraft. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked if the person killed in the Elmendorf plane was the pilot. MS. SWENSON stated it was the passenger that died and the family of the passenger successfully sued the pilot. She reiterated the bodily damage waiver did not cover deaths. CHAIRMAN DAVIS explained that a lot of the legal questions pertaining to HB 161 will be addressed through the House Judiciary Committee. He stated if HB 161 does become law, people who currently have insurance and pay into this will not be buying the added insurance. He indicated there would be the possibility of additional risk. He said this would apply only if this situation was the case. He added most cases only include negligence. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS noted that the appropriate term was gross negligence. CHAIRMAN DAVIS read the definitions of gross negligence and negligence as defined by Alaska Statute. He asked for clarification on gross negligence and negligence. MS. SWENSON said the bill drafter should address those issues. CHAIRMAN DAVIS announced for the record that Representatives MacLean and Brice arrived at 1:55 p.m. REPRESENTATIVE EILEEN MACLEAN asked why HB 161 was exclusive to air and watercraft. She expressed concern as to the inclusion of other areas of transportation. Number 408 MIKE FORD, attorney with the Division of Legal Services, commented on the distinctions between negligence and gross negligence and stated it was "a matter of degree." He stated HB 161 addresses negligent acts and a pilot would be protected from acts of negligence, but not be protected from gross negligence or reckless and intentional acts. He stated it is sometimes difficult to articulate the difference. He stated HB 161 is narrowly crafted and the intentions were designed only for aircraft and watercraft guest passengers. However, he noted the legislature will make the final decision and substance of any exceptions to HB 161. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked if HB 161 would exempt air and watercraft operators from being liable for their passengers' deaths. MR. FORD explained HB 161 provides immunity to the operator or owner of an aircraft or boat. He indicated in the event of an accident where a guest passenger dies under present law a guest passenger might recover from the pilot for injuries. He implied if HB 161 becomes law, they would not be able to recover due to the pilot's negligence and assuming this scenario occurs, this would be the distinction of a before and after consequence of the bill. He explained HB 161 does have provisions if the pilot has insurance then they are not immune, if the pilot does carry insurance, a guest passenger or family can recover up to the amount of the insurance. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated she opposed HB 161 due to Mr. Fords explanation. Number 441 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked for clarification on Mr. Fords statement regarding the pilots not being immune if they are acting in a professional manner and are insured. Representative Brice reiterated the fact the pilot would be immune if they do not have insurance. MR. FORD stated there is an immunity created by HB 161. However, the immunity does not apply if the pilot has a guest passenger, the plane crashes and the guest passenger is injured. He said then the pilot would be considered negligent. He explained the guest passenger could still recover if the pilot has insurance. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked for clarification on the fact that the guest passenger could not recover if the pilot was not insured. MR. FORD stated Representative Brice's comment was correct. He further explained if the pilot is not insured, then there is the potential of no recovery. He explained this is assuming there is no one else at fault. REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS asked for clarification on the type of standardized insurance required for pilots. He inquired as to assuming the pilot does have insurance and the pilot was found to be grossly negligent, would he be covered? MR. FORD stated that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked for clarification on implications of the definition of negligence stating, "it immunizes the gross negligent acts of the pilots of watercraft or air." MR. FORD indicated no, the act would only immunize negligent acts. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked if this covered gross negligence as well. MR. FORD explained it would not cover gross negligence. If someone had committed a grossly negligent act, then there would not be immunity granted under HB 161. He stated the arguments between gross and just negligent are a difference of standards. He exemplified by stating if a person actually committed a grossly negligent act, then there would not be immunity under HB 161. He stated a person involved in an accident could recover. Number 460 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked for clarification on the term reasonable care. MR. FORD explained the term indicates care that a reasonable person would exercise in a given situation. He explained for defining negligence, courts have created a fictional person they believe would and have set standards on how a reasonable person would act. CHAIRMAN DAVIS directed his comments on the intent of HB 161 to Ms. Swenson regarding Representative Bunde's intent with the inclusion of the terms gross negligence and intent to make negligence immune. MS. SWENSON stated her belief was that Representative Bunde's intentions were to protect families of the operators and owners of air and watercraft from significant losses. She explained the intent is to cover the operators in the event of an accident beyond the pilots of a boat or aircraft control; i.e., an Act of God. CHAIRMAN DAVIS confirmed Mr. Fords comment that an act of a reasonable person is designed to set a standard; outside of these standards would then be regarded as negligence. Chairman Davis requested an example in the distinctions between negligence and gross negligence. MR. FORD presented a scenario where a plane crashes because it ran out of fuel. The fact the pilot did not check the fuel level would make him negligent. However, if the pilot knowingly mixed water with the gas intending to stretch the mixture, that action would be considered gross negligence. He stated it is dependent on the act involved. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE presented a scenario in order to clarify the intent of HB 161. He implied that he was from the Interior and enjoyed jet boats as do other people in the Interior. He exemplified taking a boat up the Salcha River and hitting a sandbar going 70 miles per hour, killing his passenger. Barring any alcohol or other impairment, would he be exempt from the intent of HB 161. MR. FORD stated if this situation went to trial, the jury would have to be asked, would a reasonable person have acted in the same manner. He postulated, what would a reasonable person have done. For example, would they have slowed down or paid more attention to the river or would a reasonable person have acted in the same manner. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked what would the case be if alcohol was involved. MR. FORD indicated it would make a difference. He eluded to the possibility of the jury finding the person negligent. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated in her opinion, HB 161 was exclusive to water and aircraft carriers and explained it should be all inclusive to other entities such as truck drivers and railroad carriers. CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated this was a question that was brought up previously and it was indicated that these mentioned types of insurance are designed to be specific with regard to purchasing specific insurance. He added auto and truck are inclusive in their respected policies. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated "this would be a benefit to the insurance companies and not for Alaskans." REPRESENTATIVE BRICE added it might not benefit the insurance companies. He explained in order to be eligible for the immunity, HB 161 assumes a person cannot be previously covered. But if a person carries insurance, they are eligible. Number 549 CHAIRMAN DAVIS directed his comments to Ms. Swenson and expressed his desire to obtain some degree of understanding of the context of negligence and gross negligence. He felt the sponsor of the bill should be present and elected to hold HB 161. CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there were any objections. Hearing none, HB 161 was held over. HTRA - 03/08/95 HB 203 - PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS FOR DWI OFFENSES Number 561 CHAIRMAN DAVIS welcomed Ms. Margot Knuth from the Department of Law and requested she present HB 203. MARGOT KNUTH, Criminal Division, Department of Law, stated she was here to testify on behalf of the Governor for HB 203. She explained HB 203 was one of six bills incorporated into the Governor's crime package this year. She explained HB 203 was narrowly designed, focusing on the goals of treating convictions from other states that allow a .08 blood alcohol level (BAL) for driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a prior conviction under Alaska laws. She stated Alaska currently uses the .10 BAL standard for intoxication determination. She noted there was a ruling by the Court of Appeals in 1991 stating that a conviction from a state where .08 was the standard, could not be considered substantially similar due to the possibility of the person had a lower BAL at the time of the offense than Alaska law requires. She said the average BAL of a person suspected of driving while intoxicated in Alaska is .19, significantly higher than .10. She indicated this was similar in other states. She explained before a person calls attention to themselves as a drunk driver, they may have a BAL as high as .15 and .20. She explained the arrests that are being made in states such as Oregon, are using the standard of .08 are usually above .1 blood alcohol level and the issue is a matter of technical difference in the law. Ms. Knuth said she was not aware of any opposition to HB 203 and asked if there were any questions. MS. KNUTH pointed out the four sections to HB 203. She explained the existing driver's license statute, 28.15.201, would have to become obsolete if the BAL was standardized. She explained Section 1 omits "also convictions based on laws presuming that the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor if there was .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person's blood." She explained the next three sections added the language with regards to the commercial driving while intoxicated laws, and the regular DWI statute, and finally to the forfeiture provision for repeat drunk driver offenses. She explained the language included the law ordinance "of an other jurisdiction presuming the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor at a lower percentage by weight of alcohol in the person's blood than that required in the state." REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked what impact would HB 203 have on a situation such as the Exxon Valdez incident, where the pilot of the vessel was intoxicated. MS. KNUTH stated she did not feel there would be any impact, because the intent of HB 203 is to treat repeated offenders from other states. She noted this year and last, there are DWI bills pending. Ms. Knuth suggested if Alaska stayed at .10 BAL standard, then there would be the question of how to treat people with prior convictions from other states. CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated concern for Section 2 relating to commercial driver's license (CDL) operators. He stated Alaska's commercial law standards are .04 BAL. He asked if this was standard for commercial driver licenses. Number 611 MS. KNUTH stated .04 is the federally required standard for persons operating a commercial vehicle. She indicated to the best of her knowledge there are no jurisdictions where there is a lower BAL for commercial incidents of DWIs and stated it may be possible a state may have a lower standard of .03 or .02. CHAIRMAN DAVIS stated his concern was with the carryover of the commercial DWI had from another state. He questioned whether or not there would be concern with convictions being required to withdraw a CDL and would they not be transferred to Alaska. MS. KNUTH referred to Ms. Hensley from the Department of Public Safety and stated she could address the issue of CDLs with regards to laws of other states. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked for clarification on the "law by ordinance" statement in Section 2 of HB 203. MS. KNUTH explained with regards to Washington, Oregon and California, which have lowered the standards of BALs from .10 to .08, Alaska courts have indicated that if someone from Oregon comes to Alaska with two convictions for drunk driving under Oregon laws, they need to be treated as a first offender in Alaska. She stated the language of HB 203 will help view prior DWI convictions if it was a conviction for drunk driving regardless of the BAL used to presume intoxication. CHAIRMAN DAVIS addressed the different ways to measure the BAL of a person and asked if the variations of types were taken into consideration or are the other standards ignored? MS. KNUTH explained the BAL of .1 can be measured through a toximeter breathalizer, blood or urine test but all the tests indicate the person's BAL.... TAPE 95-7, SIDE B Number 000 MS. KNUTH continued to explained, a person's BAL will be treated as a second offense, if their next violation is under Alaska state law. She stated this would count as a DWI conviction. CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated with relation to DWI laws. He questioned the effectiveness of some of these laws and with the implementations of new laws. He stated HB 203 "fits in the realm of acceptability" and supported HB 203. Number 029 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services, Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Safety, explained that the Department of Public Safety is looking forward to HB 203 passing. She explained the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is in a position to hear administrative hearings for DWI arrests and finds a person to have five prior DWIs in the state of California. The state of Alaska will treat them as first offenders. She explained even if their BAL was .30 or .0, they have to be treated as a first offender. CHAIRMAN DAVIS inquired as to commercial operators and the .04 BAL. MS. HENSLEY explained the national federally mandated standard for commercial operators is .04 percent. She explained if a person possessing a CDL is operating a commercial vehicle and is convicted of a DWI and has a BAL of .04, it is a mandatory one year license revocation of their CDL. She depicted a scenario where if Utah had a .02 for their commercial operators and that person was convicted for DWI and was found to be operating an 80,000 ton commercial vehicle in Alaska, the state would not be able to use the Utah conviction if that person was also operating a commercial vehicle here and was picked up a second time for DWI. She stated "when we think of commercial vehicles, we think it could be a panel vehicle that they are using for commercial purposes. The majority of these vehicles are hazardous material tankers, doubles and triples, 26,000 lbs. or greater." If a person was convicted of an .04 offense, it would apply; however, if that state was a lesser degree than Alaskan standards, Alaska would not be able to use that conviction. She indicated a second offense DWI conviction of commercial driving is a lifetime disqualification of a CDL. Number 093 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if a person obtains a CDL, do they carry a separate private and commercial license? MS. HENSLEY explained a person obtains only one license. If a person has a CDL to operate a class A, B or C vehicle, these types of vehicles are covered. If a person is arrested and convicted of operating a commercial vehicle with a BAL of .04 or greater, they only lose their CDL. However, if they are found to be .10 or greater, they will lose all driving privileges. REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN made a motion to move HB 203 out of the House Transportation Committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal notes. CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there was any objection. Hearing none, HB 203 was moved out of committee. HTRA - 03/08/95 HB 57 - LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVERS Number 124 CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Representative Joe Green, sponsor of HB 57. REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN indicated HB 57 was introduced last session and got as far as the House Rules Committee when we ran out of time. He explained the bill was reintroduced due to concerns on the abundance of accidents and deaths caused by teen-age drivers. He indicated these deaths were not necessarily caused because of unqualified drivers so much as "their mental attitude was lacking." He stated a teen-ager can physically operate a vehicle but Representative Green questioned the teen-ager's maturity and judgment level. He explained HB 57 was necessary in order to help teen-agers realize the seriousness of operating an automobile and to establish a graduated system in acquiring a driver's license. He stated driving was a privilege, not a right. He pointed out that statistically, the majority of the accidents happen in the early hours of the morning. He explained HB 57 implements a restriction during phase two of the graduation system imposed in HB 57 stating that teen-agers would be restricted from the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. when most accidents happen, unless they are taking a direct route from employment to home. He stated the intent is to keep teen-agers off the streets at those specific times. Representative Green asked for questions. Number 175 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN commented on other states implementing monetary incentive programs for young drivers. She inquired as to the type of monetary incentives available in Alaska when there is a fiscal note that will increase the budget within the Department of Public Safety. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN indicated Ms. Hensley would be able to address Representative MacLean's concerns. JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green, presented HB 57 in sections. He indicated the intent of HB 57 was to establish a provisional driver's licensing system. He asked the committee to analogize learning to ride a bicycle. He stated the progression of starting with a tricycle, and on to a bicycle with training wheels, then to a full size bicycle. He stated the intent of HB 57 is to do the same in regards to creating a three-stage system for people who operate an automobile. He indicated Section 1 of HB 57 establishes that a driver's license cannot be issued to a person between the ages of 16 and 21. He mentioned the bill targets people between the ages of 16 and 20, unless they have met the provisions of 057, which is a new provision licensing section in Section 3 of HB 57. He summarized Section 1 states a person may not obtain a license if you are a young driver, unless you have had a provisional driver's license; Section 2 increases the age of the person one can drive with when they have a learner's permit. He explained that nationally as well as within Alaska, statistics indicate if a person is taught to drive by a person with good driving habits, that person will more than likely acquire the same skills. He added statistically, persons 25 years and older are more capable of teaching others to drive. He indicated this was the reason for the increase in age in order to obtain a learner's permit. He explained Section 3 of the bill adds two new sections: 055 which states that the Department of Public Safety may issue a provisional driver's license to a person who is at least 16, but not yet 18, if that person possesses an instructional permit. He summarized the three-stage provisional licensing system. He said first, the learner's permit, then the provisional license, and finally the full driver's license. He stated a person must have a learner's permit for at least six months. The second subsection of 055 states if a person is between 18 and 21, a permit is not required, however they do have to have the provisional driver's license. So, in Section 3 under 055, it states that before a person may obtain a license, that person must have had the provisional driver's license. MR. LOGAN then explained provision 057 which establishes the provisional driver's license. He stated there are three subsections to 057--A, B,and C. Subsection A provides the provisions for the 16 and 17 year olds. Subsection B covers persons at least 18, but not yet 21. Subsection C establishes the night time driving restrictions. He directed attention to the charts in the bill packet presented to committee members. He made reference to a pie chart which offered statistics from 1993, that while young drivers 16 to 23 represented 6 percent of the licensed drivers, they had almost 13 percent of the accidents. He referenced the same pie chart which showed the time of day these accidents occurred. He stated about 32 percent of the accidents for that particular age group occurred between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. He indicated what HB 57 establishes is essentially a curfew for young drivers between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. MR. LOGAN made reference to a House State Affairs Committee meeting last year where there was concern in Representative Davis's district regarding young workers in the fish processors. Mr. Logan explained that we have worked around that, and it would be permissible for a person traveling directly from work to home. MR. LOGAN explained Section 4 of HB 57 tightens up the section of law pertaining to the state of Alaska having the right to suspend a person's license if that person demonstrated irresponsible behavior operating a vehicle. He indicated that currently, if a person acquires 12 or more points within a 12-month period, or 18 or more points within a 24-month period, the person's license will be suspended. However, if a person has a provisional license, they are only allowed a total of six points before their license is suspended. Mr. Logan explained once a person loses their provisional license they have to start the entire process over. He stated Section 5 is a definition section and Section 6 establishes an effective date. MR. LOGAN indicated that Ms. Hensley could further testify to the nationally, as well as international popularity of the driver licensing provisional system. He stated currently there are 16 states that have successfully implemented some component of a provisional licensing system. He named some of the organizations that are supporting a type of provisional licensing system such as Associations of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Insurance Associations, Mothers against Drunk Driving, Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, and National Safety Councils. He called committee members' attention to a brochure which listed organizations and insurance companies primarily supporting this legislation. He stated these organizations profit from young drivers and noted that one would suspect they would welcome young drivers of this higher statistic risk. He explained the fact is, these organizations are aware of the problems caused by the higher risk drivers and support a provisional licensing system. Number 290 MS. HENSLEY stated from the Department of Public Safety--from an enforcement standpoint--and the DMV within Public Safety, both support HB 57. She indicated it was a good measure to save lives. She reiterated Mr. Logan's point that youth drivers are over represented in the number of licensed drivers the state of Alaska has. She explained the graduated license system is a restricted license program allowing youth drivers to learn over a period of time with restrictions imposed. She explained the intent was to help beginners learn to drive step by step by controlling their progression toward a full driving privilege. She explained the restrictions are lifted gradually and systematically until the driver acquires an unrestricted license. She indicated this system is beneficial in two ways: One, it insures that the new driver has accumulated the practical experience needed in low risk settings; and, second, it also means drivers are older and more mature by the time they obtain their unrestricted license. She reiterated her comment on the over representation youth drivers have in Alaska. She explained only 6.2 percent of all licensed drivers are between the ages of 16 and 20, and involved in 12.9 percent of all total crash accidents in the state and 28.8 percent of the mentioned age group are involved in the total crashes involving fatalities. She added this particular age group is over represented nationwide, not just Alaska. She added with regards to the states that have implemented a graduated driver license program, California and Maryland have recorded a 5 percent reduction in the total crashes between the ages of 15 through 17. She mentioned Maryland has reported a 10 percent reduction in traffic convictions. She said Oregon reported a 16 percent reduction in crashes for male drivers, ages 16 to 17, which indicated the monetary value decreases on the cost of insurance in the state as well as the amount of crashes, fatalities and injury accidents. She indicated there are several stages in implementing this program, if Alaska decides to adopt it. First, there needs to be a learner's stage, then an intermediate stage, then a full license can be obtained. She reiterated Mr. Logan's point that the various agencies support this legislation. She mentioned the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the International Chiefs of Police, Alaska Peace Officers Association, the National Association of Governor Highway Safety Representatives, National Safety Council and the National Transportation Safety Board all support HB 57. She stated as a driver license administrator in Alaska, she felt a graduated license program has the potential to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities, also having the potential to reduce youth crime occurring between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Ms. Hensley welcomed any questions from the Committee. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked for confirmation on the $163,000 fiscal note for HB 57. MS. HENSLEY explained the fiscal note shows $162,000 in new revenue coming into the state. She explained the new revenue was from the amount for driver's licensing. She indicated there is a $15 fee for taking the road test and HB 57 implements an additional $10 fee to go from a provisional license to a full license. She explained there is a $100 fee for reinstating a person's driver's license in the event they lose their license due to point accumulation. She explained the revenue is generated in program receipts from the additional work DMV would be conducting. She indicated only North Carolina and Alaska applied for the incentive grants offered to all states by the National Highway Safety Administration to implement or to study an implementation of a graduated license program. Alaska's grant was $77,000 and is reflected on the fiscal note. She indicated the total operating cost is $126,000 with only $49,500 of that from the general fund revenue and $77,000 is the federal receipts from the grant received. She indicated there is a total income of $163,000 to the department. Number 385 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if the reason Alaska and North Carolina received the grant was due to the other states previously having the grant. MS. HENSLEY indicated no this was not the reason. She stated she was happy and proud that Alaska was awarded the grant and is giving Alaska some national recognition in terms of progressive action on a driver license system. She indicated Alaska has the lowest crash rate and fatalities in the nation, as far as the lowest reduction in accidents last year. CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Mr. Mark Johnson to testify on HB 57. Number 400 MARK JOHNSON, Chief, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Department of Health and Social Services, stated he supported HB 57. He explained that motor vehicle trauma is the number one cause of hospitalization and number two cause of death following suicide, for the 15 through 24 year age group. He indicated that data is collected from every hospital in Alaska on every injury admitted to a hospital. He said they have that data from 1991 through most of 1994. He mentioned all the statistics that are seen nationally apply in Alaska and the mentioned age group is represented at about double the rate of percentages of the drivers in injury hospitalizations and deaths. He added with respect to hospitalization costs, the mentioned age group cost an average of $20,000 per patient which does not include other charges billed separately, such as physicians, ambulances, rehabilitation and other expenses. He referred to the question relating to the evaluation of these programs, the more data acquired by EMS or Public Safety, the greater the ability of evaluation on the impacts. CHAIRMAN DAVIS recognized for the record that Representative Jeannette James arrived at 2:45 p.m. and asked if she had heard testimony on HB 57 last year. REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES said no she had not. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS requested HB 57 be moved out of the House Transportation Committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Number 435 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there were objections. Hearing none, HB 57 was moved out of the House Transportation Committee. CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated there was information for the Committee members regarding the Marine Pilots Board and emphasized this was an important scheduled bill. He added there was also information from the Bicycle Federation of America that the Committee was not able to attend due to an extended session at the time of the meeting. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to come before the House Transportation Committee, Chairman Davis adjourned the meeting at 2:50 p.m.