Closure is hard to come by after you lose someone to a drunk driving crash. That’s because it’s not an accident when someone drives drunk and they crash: it’s a deliberate choice, and when someone takes a life because of a choice they made, the victim’s family can find it extremely hard to move on.
That’s why families of drunk driving victims often make the decision to work to improve drunk driving laws by backing bills and helping improve existing laws. For many families those improvements include ignition interlocks for all offenders in their state, while others focus on toughening up drunk driving laws for repeat offenders.
New Jersey is a good example: lawmakers have just sent a bill, A-3686, to Governor Chris Christie’s desk for his signature. The proposed law is also known as Ralph and David’s Law, and if signed it will honor the memory of two drunk driving victims and toughen up repeat offender laws.
Ralph Politi was a business owner and volunteer who was crashed into by a drunk driver while he was standing beside his truck. The offender was found guilty for causing the drunk driving crash, but he only lost his driver’s license for 2 years and had to perform 30 days of community service. That’s a pretty light sentence for killing someone.
The bill is also named for David Heim, a 13-year-old boy who was killed in a drunk driving crash. The driver, a first offender in New Jersey, only received 30 days in jail.
If Governor Christie signs Ralph and David’s law, New Jersey drunk driving laws would change to require anyone who kills a person while drunk to be guilty of strict liability vehicular homicide. It would be a third-degree offense, and even first offenders would receive jail time of three to five years. They would also pay up to $15,000 in fines.
This law would be active the second Governor Christie signs it. For the sake of the families who lost someone so tragically and to prevent crashes like these from happening again, let’s hope it gets a signature soon.