HB 2740 Passes – Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Bill

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


House Bill 2740

On June 23th, 2007, the Oregon House passed House Bill 2740 on a 54-1 vote. On June 25rd, it passed the Oregon Senate on a 25-0 vote. Now HB 2740 goes to the Governor Kulongoski’s desk for his signature.

HB 2740 creates a new crime – Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. A person commits the crime of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide if that person kills someone while driving under the influence of intoxicants and has a prior conviction for killing someone while driving under the influence of intoxicants. Aggravated Vehicular Homicide carries a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.

In addition, HB 2740 specifies that killing someone while driving under the influence of intoxicants constitutes Manslaughter in the First Degree if the driver has three prior DUII convictions in the past 10 years or has been previously convicted of assault while driving under the influence of intoxicants. Manslaughter in the First Degree carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

In addition, HB 2740 specifies that seriously injuring someone while driving under the influence of intoxicants constitutes Assault in the First Degree if the driver has three prior DUII convictions in the past 10 years or has been previously convicted of homicide or assault while driving under the influence of intoxicants. Assault in the First Degree carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years and 6 months.

Dedicated Team Works on House Bill 2740

The passage of HB 2740 was the culmination of years of work, primarily on the part of Representative Jeff Barker, his legislative assistant Alan Fleishman, and Crime Victims United members Jayne Ferlitsch, Anne Pratt, Bruce Pratt and Steve Doell.

On July 18th, 1999, Jayne’s father-in-law Martin, mother-in-law Angela, and 12-year-old niece Jennifer, were driving to the coast. Their car was struck by a DUII driver. In a letter dated June 23, 2007, urging legislators to support HB 2740, Jayne wrote:

“Eight years ago I held the hand of my niece, Jennifer Ferlitsch, as she lay comatose at Emmanuel Hospital – the victim of a repeat DUII offender who had already killed my father-in-law the day before. My mother-in-law lay in intensive care with multiple internal injuries, head injuries, collapsed lungs, and broken bones.”

“I looked at this beautiful 12-year-old whose head had been smashed in by a man who hadn’t learned from previous experience that driving while intoxicated can be deadly. You see, he had already killed his wife and his best friend years earlier while driving drunk. As the machines were turned off, Jennifer exhaled one last time and became the 4th fatal victim of James Lincoln Willie.”

            Software: Microsoft Office Software: Microsoft Office             Software: Microsoft Office

In addition to previously killing two people, Willie had numerous DUII and assault convictions in Oregon and Texas.

HB 2740 was sponsored by Representative Barker at the request of Crime Victims United. It was supported by Crime Victims United, MADD, the Governor’s Advisory Committee on DUII, the Oregon District Attorneys Association, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Oregon Sheriffs’ Association.

You can hear audio of the hearing on HB 2740 at the Oregon Legislature’s web site. This requires RealPlayer software. Unfortunately, the audio starts after the beginning of the hearing, in the middle of Jayne Ferlitsch’s testimony.

The Long Path to Passage of House Bill 2740

The first incarnation of HB 2740 was a bill proposed to the 1999 Oregon Legislature. It went nowhere.

In the 2005 legislative session, HB 2791 was sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee at the request of Crime Victims United and was championed by Representative Barker. During the session, HB 2791 stalled. To give it a second life, it was amended and stuffed into another bill, HB 2828, with the support of that bill’s sponsor, Representative Jeff Kropf.

The team of Jayne Ferlitsch, Anne Pratt, Bruce Pratt and Steve Doell worked the bill, lining up support and shepherding it through committee hearings. HB 2828 passed in the House on June 10th, 2005, on a 54-4 vote and went to the Senate. As the session wore on, the team continued to work the bill in the Senate. Finally, on August 4th, the last full day of a session that had dragged on well past the normal closing date, the Senate passed HB 2828 on a 29-1 vote. But the Senate amended the bill, so it would have to go back to the House for a concurrence vote.

Because it was so late in the session, holding a concurrence vote required suspending the House rules. As the session wore on, late into the night of August 4th, Jayne, Anne and Steve were at the legislature, lobbying to get the rules suspended and get the bill passed. August 4th turned into August 5th and negotiations continued. Finally, around 3 AM, with the session still grinding on, Jayne and Anne went home. Steve stayed until the session finally closed at 6:35 AM on August 5th. The bill died and months of hard work went up in smoke.

At the start of the 2007 session, Crime Victims United started working with Representative Barker to try again, drafting HB 2740. The team found co-sponsors, lined up support from various groups, found people to testify at hearings, wrote and delivered testimony, worked on amendments and shepherded the bill through committees.

The bill was the subject of several negotiations between Representative Barker and other legislators and Crime Victims United, and other interested parties. It was amended twice to reach its final form, HB 2740-B.

On Saturday, June 23rd, the House passed HB 2740-B on a 54-1 vote. Now it was time to go to the Senate again. This time the Legislature had set a firm date for adjournment – Friday, June 29th – but there was talk of adjourning earlier, so the pressure was on.

On Monday, June 25th, HB 2740-B was scheduled for a vote in the Senate but it was not certain to get one – it might be postponed and there was no guarantee that a vote would be held in time. Once again the team worked with legislators. Finally, late Monday afternoon, the Senate vote was held. HB 2740-B passed 24-0. After eight years of effort, the bill was headed to Governor Kulongoski’s desk for his signature.

Oregon owes a large debt of gratitude to Representative Jeff Barker and his legislative assistant Alan Fleishman, and to Crime Victims United members Jayne Ferlitsch, Anne Pratt, Bruce Pratt and Steve Doell.

We Hope HB 2740 Will Never Be Used

After all this effort, Crime Victims United hopes that HB 2740 will never be used - because Oregonians will embrace their obligation to drive responsibly. Each of us can contribute toward that goal by not driving under the influence and by speaking up when we see someone doing it.

In 2006, DUII caused over 200 deaths and 2,000 injuries in Oregon, and nearly 18,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries nationally. Please do your part to stop this carnage.


Article on HB 2828 (2005)

CVU Articles on DUII

 


HomeTop | Search