“For the first time ever in my time of doing this, we don’t have anyone signed up in favor of the bill,” said Judiciary Chairman Shott at the opening of a public hearing on SB 130, revisions to procedures for revocation or suspension of a person’s license to operate a motor vehicle for offenses involving driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs. It is an extensive rewrite of DUI laws, administrative hearings, and criminal convictions including doing away with administrative hearings.
Here is a sampling of the opposition:
Kathleen Riley, speaking for Interlock Manufacturers, said, “Half of all people arrested for DUI in WV are using Interlock. It is the only device that stops a person who’s been drinking from driving. With SB 130, there’s potential that fewer interlocks will be used.”
A representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving noted, “WV is one of 41 states that has license revocation laws. It is a swift, certain, and immediate action for driving drunk. WV law is a model for the nation.”
Pete Dougherty, Sheriff of Jefferson County, told the committee, “We have a system of administrative hearings that has improved radically. Without administrative hearings, you will encourage ‘let’s make a deal’ in court.”
Joey Cove, Huntington Police Department, explained that he is one of the more active driving impaired enforcement officers. “Put me in jail. This is what I hear as preferred to losing license. We want to deter future impaired driving.”
Nicole Cofer from the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s office pointed out that DUI is not a victimless crime. “We don’t know the disposition of 35% of DUI arrests due to ‘deals’. This bill takes away a huge consequence that people would prefer not to have,” she explained.
Teresa Maynard, Director of the Office of Administrative Hearings, provided statistics, stating that 10 years, there have been 15,000 people who were charged with DUI.
Following the public hearing, House Judiciary took up SB 130, asking several questions about qualifications for administrative hearing examiners and DMV procedures. The discussion continued after the floor session for most of the afternoon, with questions directed to DMV Counsel Adam Holley, Chief Hearing Examiner Teresa Maynard, and Kanawha Assistant Prosecutor Nicole Cofer. Asked if WV risked losing highway funds with this bill, Holley responded affirmatively, stating that to prevent losing funds, the administrative hearing should be preserved in some form. Maynard expressed her biggest concern is that drug cases are going to get lost. “They aren’t subject to interlock and there is a tendency for magistrates not to wait for blood analysis. We may see more drugged drivers.” Despite very few arguments made in support of the bill, it passed the committee. The reference to Finance was waived in the Senate and it is not referenced to Finance in the House.