SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A bill looking to strengthen penalties for hit and run drivers cleared an important hurdle Tuesday. Assembly Bill 582, also known as Gavin’s Law, would close a loophole that incentivizes some people to leave the scene of a crash.
Susan Gladding was not just fighting for her husband, she was fighting for all hit and run victims when she made a tearful appeal to pass AB 582.
“It needs to be corrected in order to protect the public and citizens like myself, and all of you,” Gladding said at a hearing Tuesday.
Testifying in front of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Gavin Gladding’s widow argued that drunk drivers in California who leave the scene of a deadly crash and sober up before being caught face a lighter punishment than those who stay.
The 18-year-old who was responsible for killing her husband last fall was sentenced to just three years in prison.
Right now, a person faces four years in prison for leaving the scene of a crash where someone is seriously hurt or killed, but AB 582 would increase that penalty to four to six years for serious injury and six to eight years if a person is killed.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson is among the lawmakers pushing to close the loophole.
“I really give a great deal of credit to the Gladden Family, who touched the hearts of these members but I also give credit to members of this committee who actually looked at the law up and found the loophole and said you know what, it’s there, we probably need to fix it,” Patterson said.
While Patterson is confident an amended bill will be brought back and passed in committee, Gladding’s widow says she won’t be satisfied until Gavin’s Law becomes a reality.
“It’s very emotional. So, I’m just glad I got through it and I’m glad it resonated in there and I’m hopeful to see some change will come of this,” Gladding said.
Gavin’s Law will be voted on next Tuesday.