CSAO: Public Safety and Security Committee - February 21, 2013 - H.B. No. 6336

TESTIMONY OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

IN SUPPORT OF:

H.B. NO. 6336: AN ACT CONCERNING THE TIMING OF TESTS FOR BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS IN OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE CASES

JOINT COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
February 21, 2013

The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully recommends the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for H.B. No. 6336, An Act Concerning the Timing of Tests for Blood Alcohol Levels in Operating Under the Influence Cases. The Division has again presented this legislation to the General Assembly in our 2013 Legislative Recommendations as an important tool in strengthening the laws against drunken driving.

H.B. No. 6336 is companion legislation to Public Act 10-124 (since codified in sections 15-140q and 15-140r of the General Statutes), which amended the law governing the timing of blood alcohol tests in cases of suspected drunken boating. H.B. No. 6336 would apply the same changes to suspected cases of driving under the influence. We would note that the Public Safety and Security Committee endorsed this legislation as recently as last year, when S.B. No. 63 received a Joint Favorable Change of Reference to the Judiciary Committee. The bill unfortunately died on the House calendar.

The language of H.B. No. 6336 is the same as proposed in previous years. The need for the legislation also is unchanged. As we stated last year, this bill would amend Section 14-227a of the General Statutes to revise the requirement that tests to determine the blood alcohol content of an individual suspected of driving under the influence be conducted within two hours of the time the individual was operating the vehicle in order for those tests to be admissible as evidence in a criminal or administrative proceeding. The bill would waive the two-hour requirement and deem admissible the results of tests taken after the two-hour window but only when expert testimony is provided to establish that the test was a reliable determinant of the blood alcohol content at the time of operation.

This change is necessary to provide for the effective prosecution of DUI cases and the adjudication of administrative per se cases in the small number of instances where testing cannot be completed within two hours of vehicle operation. The reason that this may occur is simple: emergency personnel are focused on saving lives, not collecting evidence. In attending to the seriously injured, the emphasis must first be on emergency medical care and protecting public safety, which may prevent personnel from conducting blood alcohol testing. Again, tests conducted beyond the two-hour period would only be admissible when expert testimony was provided to establish the reliability of that test. This bill recognizes the need for emergency personnel to focus first on protecting the public health and safety while allowing for the effective prosecution and administrative disposition of DUI violations while providing adequate safeguards for the rights of the accused.

For these reasons, the Division of Criminal Justice respectfully requests the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT. The Division of would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions you might have. Thank you.



Content Last Modified on 2/21/2013 11:47:45 AM