Home California Senate Public Safety Committee Votes 4-0 to Pass SB 1472: Ryan’s Law

Senate Public Safety Committee Votes 4-0 to Pass SB 1472: Ryan’s Law

Press Release

by ECT

Sacramento, CA– In a 4 to 0 vote, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted in favor of SB 1472: Ryan’s Law. Marking a major victory in the fight to keep California’s streets safe. After moving testimony from Carin Koeppel, founder of the Koeppel foundation and mother to Ryan Koepell who was killed by a reckless driver, the votes came in to recognize and address the growing issue of extreme speeding and reckless driving.

Recent increases in local street and highway fatalities, serious injuries, and the dangers of street racing are resulting in an epidemic of reckless driving and disregard for public safety. The California DMV reports that there were over 1500 more reckless driving citations statewide in 2021 than the year before and excessive speed violations increased by 80% from 9,000 violation to over 16,000 in the same period.

Of particular concern, is the growing prevalence of street racing and sideshows across the State. The CHP reports that they responded to almost 6,000 street races and sideshows, issuing 2,500 citations statewide in 2021, and these events can cost lives. CHP also reports that street racing and sideshows have caused 264 crashes statewide in the past five years. Of those crashes, 30 have been fatal and 124 have resulted in serious injuries.

“Cars are weapons, and whether it’s a sideshow, a street race or just excessive speeding, these are not victimless crimes.” said Senator Stern.

Just last month in South San Francisco a 15-year-old passenger died after two cars raced each other and one of them lost control, striking a wall and a tree causing the teens death and major injuries to an adult passenger. This problem is knocking on all of our backdoors and until statutory changes are made, lives will continue to be needlessly lost on our roads.

By redefining gross negligence to include driving over 100 mph, participating in sideshows or exhibition of speed, and driving recklessly, the bill explicitly gives prosecutors the ability to charge the driver with a felony if that charge should fit the crime.

“I believe that through additional enforcement, public awareness and understanding one’s own personal responsibility while driving SB 1472 will save lives. SB 1472 provides a reasonable solution in law that may prevent the next tragedy from ever happening to any child, parent or loved one” stated Carin Koeppel in her testimony.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 1472, as amended, Stern. Vehicular manslaughter: speeding and reckless driving.
Existing law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour, and provides that upon a subsequent conviction of that offense within a certain number of years, the person shall be punished by a fine and the Department of Motor Vehicles shall suspend their privilege to operate a vehicle, as specified. Under existing law, a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway or in an offstreet parking facility in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, which is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail or by the payment of a fine, or both imprisonment and a fine, as specified.
Existing law defines the crime of vehicular manslaughter as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice while driving a vehicle under specified circumstances, including in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, with or without gross negligence, and provides that vehicular manslaughter is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony. Existing law defines vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, while driving under the influence of alcohol, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence, and prescribes penalties for that crime of imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or 2 or 4 years.

This bill would create and define the new crimes of vehicular manslaughter while driving and speeding and vehicular manslaughter while driving in a reckless manner as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, where the driving was either a violation of the prohibition against driving a vehicle at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour that occurred within a 3-year period of one or more prior convictions of that crime, or a violation of driving in a reckless manner that occurred within a 3-year period of 2 or more prior convictions of that crime, respectively, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence. The bill would prescribe penalties for a violation of those crimes to be imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or 2 or 4 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would specify that if probation is granted to a person convicted of the crime, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 60 days, a probationary term of not less than 24 months, and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and would require the court to also suspend the privilege of the person to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 6 months. The bill would require the court to provide an advisement to a person upon their conviction of driving a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour or in a reckless manner that they could be charged with vehicular manslaughter, as specified. By creating new crimes, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

This bill would specify a list of circumstances that may constitute gross negligence for manslaughter, including, among other circumstances, when a person has been convicted of reckless driving 2 times or more within the prior 3 years or has been convicted of speeding over 100 miles per hour. The bill would require the court to provide an advisement to a person upon their conviction of driving a vehicle at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour, at a speed double or greater than the posted speed limit, or in a reckless manner that they could be charged with vehicular manslaughter, as specified. By expanding the definition of a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Senator Stern Pushes For Crack Down on Deadly, Reckless Driving

January 29, 2022

WOODLAND HILLS, CA – Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) joined Captain Ford of the West Valley Area California Highway Patrol, alongside victims of reckless driving and LA City Councilmembers Blumenfield and Lee, to ring the alarm about the speeding epidemic that is taking hundreds of lives across California.

“Cars are weapons, and whether it’s a sideshow, a street race or just excessive speeding, these are not victimless crimes.” said Senator Stern.

The most extreme instances of speeding lately have been street racing and sideshows, where social media is often used to effect coordinated takeovers of parking lots and intersections. The danger and frequency of these events has grown — citations are up 300% since 2015, from 86 arrests and citations to 341 in 2020. But often these citations are minor and the drivers are back on the roads again without consequence.

Recent victims in the Los Angeles area include the death of a 16 old teenager in Van Nuys on August 10, 2020, the death of an unhoused man on a bicycle and three separate incidents in West Hills, one involving a motorcycle, and another involving a single-mother who was an innocent bystander.

In addition to these deadly speeding tragedies, sideshows and street racing have proliferated in LA since the COVID pandemic cleared the roads of traffic. On October 24, 2021, Connie Levinson was killed during a deadly sideshow in Van Nuys. The driver of the vehicle was doing donuts in the middle of an intersection at high speeds before crashing. Her thirteen year old son Mitchell and his dad Greg, appeared today alongside Senator Stern. Mitchell took the day off school to speak, because, as he said, “it’s important to be out here” despite his sadness and anger, because “people need to know that speed racing is very serious.”

Captain Ford and local level enforcement throughout the region have been attacking these racing rings with saturation events, which will be bolstered by a new $800,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to bolster their enforcement efforts.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, announced new efforts to push manufacturers to improve vehicle safety technology, and new funding from the Federal Safe Streets and Roads for All. Stern hopes LA will benefit from these efforts.

“Sec Buttigieg and Governor Newsom’s leadership couldn’t come at a better time. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in Sacramento, Washington and LA to double down on funding for law enforcement to keep our streets safe, and prosecute those who do not.”

Stern’s bill is still in development, but his office says it will require more resources go directly to enforcement, not just traffic safety infrastructure and public education, as has been the primary focus in years past. The bill he will introduce next month also will push prosecutors to be more aggressive in going after street racers and other reckless speeders.

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