House subcommittee endorses Bell’s DUI bill

House subcommittee endorses Bell’s DUI bill

Proposal prompted by Fluvanna crash

Press release

A Virginia House of Delegates Courts of Justice subcommittee on Feb. 2 endorsed a bill by Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) to increase penalties for drunk drivers who hurt someone. The bill would make it a felony when a drunk driver causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury. The bill also increases the existing penalties for drunk drivers who cause accidents resulting in permanent or significant impairment in their victims.

House Bill 1941 was prompted by an accident in Fluvanna County that seriously injured a young girl. Her parents, John and Amanda Petrylak, testified to the committee about her near-fatal injuries and arduous recovery. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip also testified.

“When someone causes this much harm, a misdemeanor isn’t enough – this warrants felony punishment,” Bell said. “We are all grateful that she is making such excellent progress, but he could have killed her. As medical technology improves, the outcome in these cases is better, but the drunk driving is still just as bad.”

The bill would raise the potential punishment for such driving from 12 months to five years. HB 1941 will now be considered by the full committee.

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