BOISE - A North Idaho lawmaker’s bid to ban repeat drunken drivers from drinking fell short Monday in a House committee, which killed the bill by one vote.
Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, developed the proposal to ban repeat drunken drivers from buying, consuming or possessing alcohol for anywhere from five years to life, depending on the offense, as a new way to target repeat drunken drivers.
Clark acknowledged up front that his bill still needed work. “Keep in mind, this is the first time around - so you’ll probably see me again and again again,” he told the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. “It should get better and better and then someday it could be ready.”
Kevin Krieg, a Post Falls carpenter who brought the issue to Clark’s attention, was among several people testifying on the bill Monday. “All we ever do is address the driving part,” Krieg told the committee. “It’s the drinking part that causes drunk driving.”
An Ada County sheriff’s deputy testified in favor of the bill as a way to go after repeat offenders, while an Idaho Transportation Department official said it’d cost the department $250,000 to comply by issuing special driver’s licenses to those under the drinking ban.
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, “I like this bill, and I like the direction it’s going, but there are still some unanswered questions.” Luker said lawmakers should “work on it for another year.”
Clark, who himself had a DUI in 1999, acknowledged that his bill didn’t address out-of-state residents, who wouldn’t have the special licenses and so still could drink in Idaho even if they were repeat DUI offenders; and that it was unclear how people with withheld judgments would be affected.
His bill originally required all sellers of alcohol to demand I.D., in order to check for the special no-drinking notation, but he offered an amendment Monday to remove that clause. That eliminated opposition from the Idaho Retailers Association, but prompted new opposition from some committee members who said that clause was needed for the measure to be enforced.
Clark said afterward that he’ll continue working on the bill next year. “I thought it was a good debate,” he said. “I don’t like losing, but I did get a lot out of it.”
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