Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/18/2001 01:32 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
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.                                                                                             

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