A proposed bill changes a loophole under California Law
A new DUI law regarding Hit and Run may change how cases, where there is a DUI with a hit and run, are dealt with. Under current California law, a DUI driver who stays at the scene of a crash can face more prison time than those who flee the scene to sober up.
However, a proposed new California Assembly Bill aims to close an apparent loophole in state law that allows DUI drivers to avoid punishment if they leave the scene of a crash.
The DUI law regarding Hit and Run cases, AB582, is named after Gavin Gladding, a 43-year-old Fresno man who was killed in a hit-and-run case in 2018. Gladding was an elementary school principal, as well as a husband, and father of two.
Gladding was training for a marathon in the early morning hours when he was struck and killed by an 18-year-old driver who fled the scene. The driver, Rogelio Alvarez Maravilla, turned himself in days later after public outcry.
Maravilla was sentenced to three years of California State Prison but only served one-year punishment.
Gavin Gladding’s widow, Susan Gladding, and several family members visited Sacramento Thursday to show support for the bill, which was unanimously approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Susan said she believes Maravilla was driving intoxicated when he hit her husband, and that’s why Maravilla fled the scene. Maravilla was not charged with DUI, and there’s no evidence to suggest he was driving under the influence.
Still, it’s the lenient sentencing that Susan is hoping to end.
According to state law, a DUI driver who stays at the scene of a crash can face more prison time than those who flee the scene to sober up. A person charged with a deadly crash while intoxicated could face as many as 10 years in prison.
Under California law, a person charged with a deadly dui with hit-and-run could face a maximum of four years in prison.
The potential sentence for leaving the scene of a crash is not enough to deter drivers from fleeing, especially those who may be under the influence, Orange County DUI Attorney Robert Miller said.
That’s why she’s advocating for AB582, which would levy harsher punishments for those who leave the scene of a crash. If it becomes law, those convicted of a deadly hit-and-run could face up to six years in prison.
Assemblymember Jim Patterson (D – Fresno), the bill’s author, said he hopes the proposal will save lives.
“We’re hoping that people even in a difficult circumstance will be human beings about it,” Patterson said. “Stay at the scene, call 911, try to assist. Don’t run, hide the evidence, and try to get off without any kind of penalty.”
The DUI law regarding Hit and Run cases, which Patterson said has bipartisan support, is being sent to the assembly floor and may affect Los Angeles DUI cases once passed soon.