ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Drake's Law, which will bring tougher sentences to those who kill others while driving drunk, cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday and awaits Gov. Dayton's signature.
The Senate passed the bill on a unanimous vote, mirroring what happened in the House a week before. The aim of the legislation is to make the punishment fit the crime of taking another person's life while intoxicated and behind the wheel.
"This recognized the impact that it has an innocent family, and the taking of lives, and taking people out of families, and how devastating and tragic that is," Sen. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls, who carried the bill in the Senate..
The legislation is named for Drake Bigler of Marshall, who was only five months old in 2012 when he killed in a collision caused by drunk driver.
Dana Allen Schoen had a blood alcohol content more than four times the legal limit when he crossed the center line and crashed into the Bigler family's SUV. The impact sheered off the passenger side of the SUV, and even though Drake was still strapped into his infant car seat he was still too badly injured to save.
Schoen pled guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Drake's Law will increase the maximum sentence to 15 years for someone who commits vehicular homicide while driving drunk within 10 years of a previous 1st degree or 2nd degree DWI conviction.
The measure would've applied in Schoen's case, according to Sen. Dahms.
"He had previous citations for drunk driving, including one in 2005 where his blood alcohol content was 0.25 percent, which is more than double the legal limit," Dahms said.
Drake's parents, Heather and Brad Bigler have campaigned tirelessly for this change. In fact, they first appeared at the Capitol two years ago to lobby for an earlier version of Dahm's bill.
And Brad Bigler, who coaches the Southwest State men's basketball team, was featured in a mini-documentary on ESPN,
The Biglers were not at the Capitol Wednesday, but they expect to return to St. Paul when Gov. Dayton signs the bill into law.