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From the desk of Senator Kemp Hannon: January 26, 2012

Senate Passes Three Major Vehicle Safety Bills

Senator Kemp Hannon informs residents of three new pieces of legislation passed by the Senate that deal with motor vehicle safety and the unsafe operation of a vehicle.

“We passed three new bills to crack down on wrong way and reckless drivers, added tougher DUI legislation, and legislation to curb illegal high-speed racing,” said Hannon. “We need to let those who might engage in unsafe and illegal activities that there will be severe consequences for their actions.”

“Michelle and Jordan’s Law,” (S.2938) will increase penalties for unlawful high-speed car racing. The legislation is named for a 17-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy whose deaths were caused by crashes stemming from suspected drag racing at excessive speeds. The bill will create stiffer penalties, which should help prevent high-speed vehicle racing and raise awareness of the risks posed by this dangerous activity.

A second bill, S.3452, will create felony charges for wrong-way and other reckless drivers. This legislation is in response to a significant number of arrests and car crashes caused by individuals who drove under the influence and drove the wrong way on our streets and highways. The bill will give law enforcement and prosecutors a valuable tool to make our roads safer.

Finally, “Abbagail’s Law” (S.164), named for a young girl who was tragically killed when a ‘supervising driver’ was under the influence of alcohol, was passed by the Senate. This legislation will create the crime of aggravated supervising a driver while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and would be a Class E felony, and closes a loophole in the law by holding supervising drivers accountable for their irresponsible actions. A supervising driver is an adult who is not actually driving, but is accompanying a young, inexperienced driver.

“All too often we read or see a news story of the death of a young person in a tragic accident,” said Hannon. “In most or all of those cases, the deaths could have been prevented. These bills will not only send a strong message that irresponsible and potentially deadly behavior will not be tolerated, but those who are guilty of such acts will be severely punished.”

All three of these bills have been sent to the Assembly.