Gavin’s Law, the proposal that would close a loophole that inadvertently encourages drivers to leave the scene of an accident, will not even make it to a vote on the Assembly Floor.
Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) announced Monday that the Assembly Appropriations Committee did not approve Gavin’s Law, striking it down earlier on in the process than in previous years.
Driving the news: Gavin’s Law would have increased the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident that results in the death of the victim.
- Current California law sets the maximum punishment at four years in prison. Gavin’s Law would have increased the penalty to six years in prison.
- The bill also would have made the permissible fine of $1,000 to $10,000 mandatory where the accident resulted in death or permanent, serious injury.
- Current law essentially allows drivers driving under the influence to leave the scene and sober up to avoid a potential 15-year sentence for felony DUI charges.
The backstory: The bill is named after former Clovis Unified School District educator Gavin Gladding, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2018 by Rogelio Alcarez Maravilla.
- Maravilla fled the scene and turned himself in five days after the accident. He only served 13 months in prison despite being sentenced for three years.
- Gavin’s Law was first proposed in 2019 and had previously passed through the entire Assembly only to be struck down in the Senate.
- In March, the Assembly Public Safety Committee made a surprising move and passed Gavin’s Law, drawing bipartisan support from key Democrats, such as Asm. Mia Bonta (D–Alameda) after expressing initial opposition.
What they’re saying: Along with the Gladding family, another key supporter of Gavin’s Law is Mike Osegueda, a former Fresno Bee and Yahoo Sports writer and the founder of Fresno Street Eats. Osegueda’s sister Courtney was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Oakland, and he testified to the Public Safety Committee and others in years past.
- Osegueda shared his disappointment with the decision by the Appropriations Committee to reject the bill.
- “I feel like this is one of the worst things you can do as a human being, is to hit someone with your car and just leave,” Osegueda said. “It’s just such a gross negligence and such a terrible thing to do. The fact that once again lawmakers around the state don’t see this as a problem is befuddling to me and it’s disappointing I think to anybody such as my family who’s had to deal with this type of case.”
- While Osegueda felt that this could finally be the time that Gavin’s Law passed, given the change of heart from the Public Safety Committee, Monday’s decision was more of the same from previous years.
- “My sister’s life should be worth more than four years,” Osegueda said. “Take away everything else, does the punishment fit the crime in most cases? No it doesn’t. It’s one thing if it’s an accident. It’s an entirely different thing if you hit someone with your car and you make the decision to leave. It’s just terrible.”