Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/18/2001 01:32 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 68 - NO CIVIL LIAB FOR TAXI TRANSPORTING DRUNK TAPE 01-65, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIR ROKEBERG announced that the next order of business would be SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 68, "An Act relating to civil liability for transporting an intoxicated person or for driving an intoxicated person's motor vehicle; and providing for an effective date." [Before the committee was CSSSHB 68(TRA); the bill was sponsored by Representative Rokeberg.] Number 0118 JANET SEITZ, Staff to Representative Norman Rokeberg, Alaska State Legislature, explained that SSHB 68 provides [an exemption from] civil liability for driving the vehicle of an intoxicated person under certain circumstances. Number 0156 CHAIR ROKEBERG made a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for SSHB 68, version 22-LS0300\O, Ford, 4/6/01, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version O was before the committee. MS. SEITZ explained that Version O provides that a person will not be liable for injury, death, or property damage resulting from a motor vehicle accident, if the person who was driving a vehicle involved in the accident had permission to do so from the owner of the vehicle or was requested to do so by a law enforcement official, and the person was not intoxicated and was employed by a taxicab, limousine, or a holder of such a permit. She added that Version O does not preclude civil liability as a result of gross negligence, or reckless or intentional misconduct. She remarked that introduction of Version O is part of an effort to remove drunk drivers from their vehicles, yet make sure that the intoxicated person's vehicle returns to the person's home safely. She noted that there is a concern by many people who drink that if their vehicles are left in a location near licensed premises, they might be subject to damage; Version O allows for a way to get the vehicle home without the intoxicated person's driving it. Number 0232 KACE McDOWELL, Executive Director, Alaska Cabaret Hotel Restaurant & Retailers Association (CHARR), testified via teleconference. She noted that after looking over Version O, the only concern she and various representatives of the taxicab industry have is that should the vehicle break down and the taxicab driver have to leave it someplace, they would like to ensure that the taxicab driver is not held liable for any damages that might ensue. She reminded the committee that the taxicab drivers will not be making any money for providing the service of taking both the intoxicated person and his/her vehicle home. In fact, she said, the "industry" is going to absorb the $40 "fee" for this service. MS. McDOWELL explained that the Anchorage Downtown Partnership and CHARR will be working together to establish a network of taxicab companies that will provide this service. There will be a specific phone number to call, and certain drivers will be assigned to pick up the intoxicated person and his/her automobile. She added that the bars will have a disclaimer notice posted regarding release from liability for the drivers. One taxicab driver will take the intoxicated person home, and the other taxicab driver will take the vehicle to the intoxicated person's home, and nowhere else. The taxicab drivers will bill "us," she said, so the "industry" will pay for this service; hence no money needs to change hands between the intoxicated person and the taxicab drivers, except any gratuities. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES inquired whether the "industry" would be in any way liable for any accidents that might occur while providing this service; her concern is that if the "industry" is paying for it, it might be held liable for what occurs to, or because of, the taxicab drivers. MS. SEITZ offered that subsection (b) on page 2, lines 6-8, addresses this possibility. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked if a similar exemption from liability could be created for the situations wherein the vehicle is not drivable and has to be left someplace. CHAIR ROKEBERG said he is not so certain that an exemption should, or could, be made regarding damage to the vehicle if it has to be left someplace other than the owner's home. He noted that Version O "is intended to allow for recovery of any damages, if there is an accident, against the existing insured vehicle; it's only in instances where there is no insurance that there would be no remedy for collection unless there was gross negligence or recklessness." He remarked that he had not yet considered the property damage aspect, aside from that which results from an accident. He asked if what Ms. McDowell is saying is that the taxicab drivers want some sort of immunity from "broken down" vehicles. Number 0669 MS. McDOWELL said yes; if the vehicle has to be left on the side of the road and then towed away, the taxicab drivers did not want to be responsible for paying the tow charges. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ surmised that it doesn't seem as if it would be a problem because the immunity offered by Version O applies once [the driver] starts driving a vehicle away from the licensed premises, and exists until [the driver] reaches the residence, which is the objective; therefore, if the residence is not reached and something happens in transit, [the driver] is still immunized from responsibility. He suggested that this particular provision could be altered to reflect that most people don't park exactly at the licensed premises, perhaps by inserting "or near [the]", after "from", on page 1, line 10, so that it would then read "from or near the licensed premises;". Representative Berkowitz also suggested that a conforming amendment be adopted that would change any reference to "intoxicated" to "under the influence". Number 0948 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ, on that point, made a motion to adopt Conceptual Amendment 1, such that on page 1, line 1; page 2, line 1; page 2, line 5, in two places; and elsewhere as appropriate, the word "intoxicated" is changed to "under the influence". There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 0960 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to adopt Conceptual Amendment 2, such that on page 1, line 10, "or near the" is inserted after "from". There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 2 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ noted that nowhere in Version O are taxicab companies given any kind of an "insurance break" for providing this service; he added that this is an issue that should be considered. Number 1037 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to report CSSSHB 68, version 22- LS0300\O, Ford, 4/6/01, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSSSHB 68(JUD) was reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.