Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 12, 2014

Reckless driving bill introduced in Virginia Senate

RICHMOND, Va. — The bill requested by the family of Virginia State Trooper Andrew Fox has been introduced in the Virginia State Senate and assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee, according to Virginia State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell.

Legislative Services assigned the number SB 293 to the bill. The bill summary is titled: “Reckless driving causing death or injury of certain persons,” and the text follows.

“Punishes reckless driving that causes the death or serious physical injury of a law-enforcement officer, emergency medical services personnel, highway worker, or firefighter engaged in his duties as a Class 6 felony with a $2,500 mandatory minimum fine. The bill further requires the court to suspend the offender’s driver’s license for one year. In addition, the court may impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 and the proceeds shall be deposited into the general fund.”

Trooper Fox, 27, a Tazewell, Va., native who was directing traffic at the Virginia State Fair on Oct. 5, 2012, when a driver leaving the fair ran over him. Fox died as a result of the injuries he received. The driver pleaded “no contest” to the reckless driving charge and was fined $1,000 and given a 12-month suspended sentence.

Lauren Fox, sister of the deceased trooper, corrected a quote attributed to her in a previous article about the family’s efforts to get the bill in the senate by stating: “Some emergency responders die as a result of accidents.” The family stated further: “With the passing of this bill and public education, we hope to show Virginia’s heroes we care about their safety as they put their lives in danger to make our lives safer. We also hope to send a message to drivers to slow down when they see emergency lights and pay closer attention while driving on Virginia’s roads.”

Puckett said last week that the bill hasn’t been introduced in the House, but he was hopeful that it would be introduced today. He said that “so far,” he’s the second senior member on the Senate Transportation committee, “but we’ll see how all that shakes out after the special elections.”

Two of the three successful candidates in Virginia’s statewide races were sitting Democrats. Only 22 votes separated the candidates he special election on Tuesday to elect a senator to complete the unexpired term of Democrat Ralph Northam, who was elected Lt. Governor. The Democrat, Lynwood Lewis Jr., was declared the winner, but the margin of victory over Republican candidate B. Wayne Coleman was within 1 percent, and will likely result in a re-count.

Another special election is scheduled on Jan. 21, to fill the unexpired term of Attorney General-elect Mark Herring. With both Herring and Northam in the Senate, the body was split 20-20, but with a challenging race ahead for Herring’s seat, as well as the tight vote on the Eastern Shore, nothing is certain.

“When people ask me what I think about the session, I tell them that I’m waiting until after the 21st to respond,” Puckett said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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