SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Gavin’s Law unexpectedly was passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday with five yes votes and three not voting.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson introduced the bill to help families of hit-and-run victims change state law to close a loophole that benefits drivers who flee the scene. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further hearing.

Officials say the committee heard powerful testimony from Rita Gladding, Gavin’s mother, and Mike Osegueda, whose sister Courtney Osegueda was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Feb. 2021 in Oakland.

“I have to say, I think a couple of members changed their minds as a result of Rita’s testimony and we were able to convince individuals that may have well voted against it. I think the testimony by Rita was compelling and I think it changed hearts and minds,” says Assemblyman Patterson.

If signed into law, Gavin’s Law will increase penalties for drivers in fatal hit-and-run crashes from the current maximum of four years to six years. As the law is written, a DUI driver who leaves the scene and sobers up before being caught avoids a potential 15-year sentence for felony DUI charges.

I’m satisfied that we’ve taken a giant step and I think it’s a significant one and the family is also joyous because we’ve got another step going forward and there is hope

Jim Patterson, Assemblyman, 8th District

Gavin’s Law is named after Central Valley vice principal Gavin Gladding. Gavin was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Sept. 2018. The driver was sentenced to three years but only served 13 months behind bars.

In previous attempts, Gavin’s Law passed almost unanimously twice through the Assembly but failed to pass through the Senate Public Safety Committee.