BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill that would increase penalties against careless drivers has passed out of the Senate with an overwhelming majority vote. It will now head the House.
The Vulnerable Road User bill, SB 171, sponsored by Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, was approved with a 33-1 vote. The bill seeks to make it a crime if a driver hits any public road user causing them any level of injury.
A public roadway user, according to the bill, is defined as anyone who is utilizing the roadway outside of a motor vehicle. That includes, but is not limited to, pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, person using a mobility device, motorcycle or scooter, wheelchair, etc.
A driver who is found guilty of such an offense causing injury could face any or all of the increased penalties such as a suspended driver's license for up to one year, a fine for no more than $2,000, imprisonment for no more than 90 days, an order to complete a court-approved motor vehicle accident prevention program, and no more than 200 community service hours.
In those cases where the non-motorist victim dies, the penalties additionally include a prison sentence of no more than five years and a fine no more than $5,000, or both.