Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/26/1997 01:10 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 98 - DRIVERS LICENSES & DRUG & ALCOHOL PROGRAM                           
                                                                               
 Number 1368                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced that the committee would take up HB 98,           
 "An Act relating to the issuance, suspension, limitation,                     
 revocation, and reinstatement of drivers' licenses, permits, or               
 privileges to drive concerning alcohol-related offenses; relating             
 to the fees charged for the reinstatement of drivers' licenses, to            
 alcohol information courses for drivers, and to youth assessment              
 and referral programs for minor drivers."                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1398                                                                   
                                                                               
 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General, Central Office, Criminal            
 Division, Department of Law, Representing the Governor's Children's           
 Cabinet, stated that point of this bill is to address a gap in our            
 current system.  We have a gap in the current system in that we               
 have an adult alcohol safety program for adults who commit alcohol            
 related offenses.  Under the Alcohol Safety Action Program they are           
 required to be screened to determine the level of their alcohol               
 problem and then required to comply with the recommendations from             
 that screening.  This could entail education to inpatient                     
 treatment.  The gap is that there is no similar mechanism for                 
 juveniles, we recently adopted this "use it and lose it" provision,           
 where juveniles who are found to be minors in possession or                   
 consuming alcohol can lose their privilege to drive and may not be            
 reinstated until they received counselling.  She stated that there            
 is no screening mechanism process for that.  That is what this bill           
 does, and it is especially important because the juvenile                     
 population is easier to reach and turn around then the adult                  
 population.  She stated that it is a shame to focus attention on              
 those who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and miss out on an               
 opportunity to work with those who are under 18.  The way that this           
 bill accomplishes this Junior Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP),           
 is by requiring that the alcohol education and rehab programs be              
 approved under the AS 47.037.  This is where the Department of                
 Health and Social Services would be involved in establishing what             
 the appropriate program would be and working with providers,                  
 through contracts in local areas for the screening and the                    
 treatment.  She stated that the heart of the bill is the amendments           
 to AS 28.015 that will require completion of an alcohol information           
 course approved by the department.  She stated that the funding for           
 this is addressed by raising the reinstatement fee for both                   
 juveniles and adults, whose licenses have been revoked.  She stated           
 that to a certain extent this is placing an additional burden on              
 the adult population in that it will specifically benefit the                 
 juveniles but at the same time, that is a population that is                  
 already engaged in some criminal conduct that has resulted in the             
 revocation of their drivers license.  She stated that the $250                
 reinstatement fee is not unreasonable for them to pay, it puts the            
 burden on the trouble makers rather than on the general public.               
                                                                               
 Number 1621                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated that he agreed with $250 being paid             
 as a reinstatement fee.  He asked what other penalties or sanctions           
 are involved with minors.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1645                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied that there is a long list of possible penalties             
 depending on the circumstances.  If the child was found to be                 
 driving while intoxicated there would be the panoply of fines,                
 detention and a juvenile jail stay.  She stated that it is only a             
 fine for a minor consuming alcohol and there is a Senate bill                 
 pending which would make a second offense a crime with the                    
 possibility of incarceration.  She stated that minor consumption of           
 alcohol is a common offense and there needs to be a balance between           
 catching the attention of youthful offenders versus having multiple           
 prosecutions.  It has been a class A misdemeanor, now it is                   
 violation, and there is talk about making it a class B misdemeanor.           
 She stated that there is also a zero tolerance provision for                  
 juveniles, if when driving they are shown to have any alcohol, they           
 lose their license pay a fine and have community work service.                
                                                                               
 Number 1740                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated that if there is a twelve-year-old or           
 a fourteen-year-old that is driving, they do not even have a                  
 license, the burden is then put back to the parents.  He asked in             
 the extreme situation what kind of penalty in our existing laws               
 could be imposed besides, the monetary penalty.                               
                                                                               
 Number 1768                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied that alcohol related offenses for that age group,           
 requires action to identify the problem that the child has and what           
 is needed is treatment and intervention, preferably inpatient                 
 treatment for the child that is on their multiple offense.  The way           
 to accomplish this is to have a criminal prosecution that is held             
 in abeyance, in lieu of treatment.  She stated that there is some             
 of this but not as much as she would like, part of the reason for             
 that, is that we do not have the inpatient treatment beds available           
 everywhere in the state.  She stated that a criminal prosecution,             
 does not do much to solve the problem of the very young alcohol               
 plagued person because by just going to detention, only teaches               
 them that they know how to survive the detention process and it               
 alienates them from the rest of their school mates and the system             
 that we want to bring them back to.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 1837                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked would the proposed increase license reissue           
 fee from $100 to $250 apply to everyone who lost their license, for           
 whatever reason.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1850                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied that it is for the adult offenders, not for the             
 youthful offenders.  For the youthful offenders it must be "a use             
 it and lose it" alcohol or drug related offense but if they lost it           
 for points, as with negligent driving or something like that they             
 would still be in the $100 reinstatement fee for those license                
 matters.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1871                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that he was assuming that the fiscal              
 notes where drawn up showing the impact on the department and the             
 anticipated revenues.  He would be curious as to the effect of the            
 judges ruling on the case where two teen girls were picked up with            
 a six-pack and there licenses were revoked under the "use it and              
 lose it" provision and the judge said that it was not allowed.  He            
 stated that he would be interested in the status of that court case           
 and how that would affect revenues and how that would impact the              
 department.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1904                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH stated that her understanding is that there could not be            
 a loss of license as a result of a criminal violation where there             
 is no right to a jury trial or representation of consul.  She                 
 stated that it did not impact the ability to administratively                 
 revoke the license because in the administrative revocation                   
 procedure there is an evidenticiary hearing and an opportunity for            
 the person to present their case and have their day in court,                 
 albeit administrative court.  She stated that is were the bulk of             
 the "use it and lose it" revocations were occurring anyway and it             
 is anticipated that there will not be a negative impact there.  She           
 stated that there is one trial court ruling that also did not like            
 the administrative "use it and lose it" provision, because they did           
 not think there was a sufficient nexus between an alcohol related             
 offense and the penalty of revoking a drivers license.  She stated            
 that is against the weight of the authority in Alaska and against             
 the weight of authority in the United States and it is on appeal.             
 She stated that we expect a reversal in that case.                            
                                                                               
 Number 1966                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated, "It seems to me that as I have                 
 brought up earlier, that $250 or dollars or whatever there ought to           
 be some way while these juveniles are doing this that we really get           
 their attention before they become adults and adult crimes and this           
 and that, that is why I question more than just the monetary.  You            
 know we got kids wearing $200 reeboks to school and this and that             
 and things of that nature so that is what I was hoping and I know             
 that is not a simple solution but sometimes I believe that our kids           
 and I got kids and grand-kids and great-grand kids and I think that           
 sometimes that best thing that we can do to them is at a very early           
 age let them understand that there are certain rules."                        
                                                                               
 Number 2007                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH stated that another one of the initiatives to come out of           
 the conference on youth and justice is the idea of the community              
 courts.  Youth courts, in rural areas have some type of                       
 intervention system in place for low level offenders that would be            
 swift, consistent and have appropriate consequences.  It is an area           
 in our system, of dealing with juvenile offenders were we have                
 pretty much fallen down on the job because the Department of Health           
 and Social Services, is strapped financially.  They have to focus             
 on the serious offenses, therefore, a whole group of low level                
 offenders are skating on everything because there isn't the                   
 accountability factor and they are getting the idea that this is              
 okay, nobody cares, nobody is watching.  She stated that in the               
 hearing officers system in Anchorage and in certain villages, there           
 is not the ability to create a criminal record for the child or to            
 put them in detention but they can issue fines and require                    
 community work service, letters of apology, and there is a                    
 confrontation with an authority figure who says what you have done            
 is inappropriate and we are monitoring you.  She stated that there            
 has to be accountability as part of the big picture because the               
 $250 fine may not capture some one's attention if money is not a              
 problem, although it would have an disproportionate impact on                 
 someone with very little money.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 2095                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated that children should be made aware at           
 a very early age that there are laws that have to be abided by.               
                                                                               
 Number 2141                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if at the present time do the laws                
 provide for the assignment of community work service.                         
                                                                               
 Number 2152                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied that they do depending on circumstances.  For a             
 court to order a community work service it has to be a misdemeanor            
 offense which gives the offender the right to the jury trial and              
 the right to public counsel, which was a recent appellate court               
 ruling.  She stated that there could be a fine up to $250 without             
 the jury trial or right to counsel and the court can always create            
 the option for the offender to convert that into community work               
 service.                                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked that this is in lieu of payment.                  
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied right.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 2182                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated that back in his early legislative               
 days he had fashioned a bill to use community work service, he                
 initiated the first "use it and lose it" bill in the state of                 
 Alaska.  He stated that if we have legal approval than liability              
 does not become much of an issue, it seems that community work                
 service, in addition to fines and withholdings of the licenses, it            
 is a pretty stout effort to grab the attention of the young people            
 who insist that they are going to drink and drive.  He asked if we            
 could assign community work service to underage kids or does that             
 depend on each community.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 2224                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH replied that we could not have an administrative                    
 requirement or authority to penalize a person through a community             
 work service because of this court ruling that says that it is                
 essentially involuntary servitude.  She stated that it is an option           
 in youth courts because the mechanism in those cases is that the              
 kid could go through delinquency proceedings where the state files            
 a petition for delinquency adjudication and that can result in                
 detention.  She stated that is the model that we had for dealing              
 with juveniles since the beginning of time.  These community                  
 sanctions are voluntarily agreed to by the youthful offender as an            
 alternative.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 2278                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if we were creating a problem with                 
 unequal application of the law if we charge an adult $100 to get              
 the license back and a juvenile $250 for something that may not               
 have been driving related.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2296                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. KNUTH  stated that this bill charges $250 for reinstatement of            
 any driver's license for the adult offenders.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2321                                                                   
 LOREN JONES, Director, Central Office, Division of Alcoholism and             
 Drug Abuse, Department of Health and Social Services, with the                
 approval of the bill, the division hopes to transfer to the                   
 Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, from the Division of Motor             
 Vehicles, the approval of alcohol information schools.  Currently             
 they are approved under the Division of Motor Vehicles, they are              
 eight hour classes, four of which must be related to driving, four            
 related to alcohol.  He stated that minors need more than four                
 hours, all the classes are geared to adult offenders and are not              
 age appropriate for minors.  This would allow us to set an age                
 appropriate curriculum, setting a full eight hours to the alcohol             
 class, with the driving hours added in.  He stated that in addition           
 to the fine, we would require them to complete and pass tests to              
 show that they have gained the knowledge that we have wanted them             
 to acquire.  This would also give the authority to monitor there              
 compliance, if an offender does not attend the classes, the                   
 division could go back to the court so that the court could retake            
 up the matter.  This is not happening currently.  The offense was             
 moved to a violation from a misdemeanor, the Division of Family and           
 Youth Services does not follow violations as they would a                     
 misdemeanor for a minor.  The district court judge does not have              
 the ability, on his own, to follow these individuals to make sure             
 that they are doing it.  He stated that as part of the other                  
 screening and sanctions some of the communities that have tried to            
 address this independently, have used community work service as a             
 voluntary thing.  If a person comes into their program and is                 
 screened they say that the offender needs to do something for the             
 community as part of dealing with the problem.  All of these things           
 would be added on top of the criminal sanctions, the fine, the                
 reinstatement fee and the loss of the drivers license.  He stated             
 that this is an added portion to those penalties that would                   
 increase the ability to get a message across to the kids that it is           
 not acceptable, consumption of alcohol is prohibited by law until             
 the age of 21 and shows zero tolerance for driving and minor                  
 consumption and possession of alcohol.  He stated that the "use it            
 and lose it" provision has been in effect for a full two years and            
 the number of administrative revocations of licenses goes up in the           
 summer and we would focus our efforts on the communities that have            
 the highest arrests.  He stated that these communities are                    
 Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, the Kenai Peninsula and              
 the Matsu Valley.  He stated that the division's prime interest and           
 the principle outcome is reflected in these charts that compare,              
 the number of offenders, the first year who had a second offense              
 and a third offense, in the second year was greatly reduced.                  
                                                                               
 TAPE 97-18, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. JONES stated that hopefully the first time offenders will start           
 to decrease as well.  He stated, "In the first couple of years it             
 went from 2,800 the first year, almost an 1,100 increase to 3,900             
 the second year who actually did lose their driver's license                  
 because of minor consuming or minor possession."  He stated that              
 responsibility as a division is to give offenders the age                     
 appropriate education, to screen them, get them into treatment if             
 that is appropriate, to re-enforce the sanctions by the court and             
 make sure the youth comply.  He stated the ultimate goal is to                
 decrease the number who lose their license and decrease the number            
 who repeat that offense.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 034                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked what do you do to educate kids in the             
 schools, is there any anti-drug and alcohol program, to modify the            
 behavior before they reach the point of being an offender.                    
                                                                               
 Number 047                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. JONES stated that between the programs that we provide through            
 the grant and aid process and through programs that the Department            
 of Education provides through the Drug Free Schools and Safe                  
 Communities Act and money that is in the schools districts and in             
 the health curriculum, we try to get the message out.  He stated              
 that "Heres Looking at You" and other kinds of curriculums are in             
 the schools, their officers are in the school, the information is             
 there.  He stated that representatives from around the state                  
 reported that the information was available in the high schools and           
 the middle schools.  He stated that it is part of the Department of           
 Motor Vehicle's manual and test, the information is out there.  He            
 stated that as one kid reported to the division that some kids just           
 don't want to listen, but we try to encourage them and we are                 
 trying to get their attention.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 104                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated that he thinks that this is a critical           
 area, and educating the young people before they get to the point             
 where they make these decisions.  He stated that this is an area              
 that he hopes will be looked at over the next five years.                     
 Education in the schools combined with joint communications with              
 the families, so that the families can reinforce the training.                
                                                                               
 Number 152                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. JONES stated that through the Youth and Justice Conference                
 there has been a lot of discussion about what is wrong and who are            
 these kids that we are having all these troubles with but it also             
 showed that there are a lot of kids out there that are doing it               
 right.  He stated that there are 70,000 kids out there, that are              
 not losing there license.  He stated that a lot of what the                   
 division is doing has had an impact on these kids and we just have            
 to go the extra mile for a few.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 190                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS stated this bill will be held over to a future              
 meeting.                                                                      
                                                                               

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