SACRAMENTO, California (KSEE) – State lawmakers say they are one step closer to closing a loop-hole in the law that benefits drivers under the influence who leave the scene of an accident.
Supporters of AB-582 bill had to wait almost a year to hear it pass out of committee. They say Tuesday’s vote was worth the wait.
During the hearing, Susan Gladding tried to keep her composure as the Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously passed the bill written in honor of her late husband, Gavin.
“It’s overwhelming as I was hearing them vote,” said Susan Gladding. “It’s very emotional. I’m just so thankful.”
A vice-principal with Clovis Unified School District, Gavin Gladding was out jogging in 2018 when he was killed in a hit and run by an unlicensed driver: Rogelio Álvarez. He spent about a year in prison after being sentenced to three.
“[Gladding] was a beloved educator, a prince of a husband, father, leader in our community and he was run over,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno).
“And instead of calling 911, trying to help him survive, this individual fled, stayed on the run, and as a result sobered up and was given a one year sentence.”
DUI drivers who get caught in a fatal crash can face many more years in prison than those who leave the scene and sober up. Gavin’s Law aims to close the gap and boost the maximum prison sentence for deadly hit and run drivers from four years to six.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson credits Susan Gladding’s tearful testimony last session for swaying lawmakers to move it forward.
“The finish line is in sight,” said Patterson.
The bill’s next hurdle will be in the Assembly Appropriations Committee before it heads to the State Assembly floor for a full vote.