Tour de Lab September 1st

Alice Awards in June, vehicular homicide, and other updates from BTA Board Chair

Posted by on January 27th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Oregon Bike Summit Day 1-24

BTA legislative committee
chair Doug Parrow.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The BTA’s Board Chair Mary Roberts sent out a letter via email today with updates on “major initiatives” they’re working on.

Here are a few bits from the letter that caught my eye:

Preparing for the 2011 Legislative Session
The legislature will be making critical decisions about transportation and bicycling in 2011. The BTA will present a legislative package, including a vehicular homicide law, to make Oregon safer and more convenient for bicyclists.

The BTA’s lobbyist, Doug Parrow, was in Salem for a hearing on a new vehicular homicide bill last week. He laid out their intention to make a push to pass it in the 2011 session (there was some hope that it might be taken up this year).

Here’s what Parrow proposed to legislators at the hearing:

For drivers who kill while violating a traffic law when their drivers’ license is suspended or revoked:
Class C Felony with Crime severity indicating presumptive prison time of 6-10 months for causing death while driving with suspended or revoked driver license and committing a violation of traffic law. This proposal follows the example of the law used in Arizona.

For other drivers who kill while violating a traffic law:
Class A Misdemeanor (probation and up to one year local jail time) for causing death while driving and committing a violation of traffic law. This proposal is similar to the laws in Nebraska, Nevada and North Carolina. (The states of Alabama and Georgia have felony crimes for this level of behavior and Hawaii and Idaho make it a misdemeanor to kill due to simple negligence even if there is no traffic law violation).

The other big announcement in this letter had to do with the BTA’s largest fundraiser of the year — the Alice B. Toeclips awards. Usually held in March, this time around the date has been pushed to June 5th. The event also moves from the huge expanse of the Oregon Convention Center to the Bison Building at NE 9th and Glisan.

Read more from the letter here.

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24 Comments
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    Jackattak January 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    The vehicular homicide updates are far too low. Not sure what they are now, but assuming they’re less than what’s being proposed in the update, that’s just stupid.

    People get worse sentences for growing a PLANT and distributing it to others.

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    toddistic January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    It’s better than nothing which is what we currently have.

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    Jackattak January 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    So? We’re supposed to be happy with “better than nothing?” I don’t buy it.

    Either we get tough with these drivers or they keep killing us. But this slap on the wrist crap has got to go. Until we begin enforcing drivers and holding them truly accountable for their actions while operating a few thousand pounds of steel on wheels or we keep dying.

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    Brian January 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Those punishments listed are pathetic.

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    andy January 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    If someone breaks a traffic law and kills or injures someone in the process, they should have their license revoked: temporarily for injuries, permanently for deaths. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and the legal penalties should reflect that.

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    q`Ztal January 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    We all have the right and freedom to travel.
    We do not, however, have the right to drive a vehicle. It is a privilege afforded to citizens by the state weighed against public safety.
    People talk about their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness but when the state allows the motoring citizens to endanger the lives other citizens it is time to take that right away.
    Period.
    If you can’t drive a car without causing harm you should not be allowed to until you can prove otherwise. The driver in question will have already been proven guilty in court, they would then have to prove their innocence or improvement.

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    toddistic January 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    @3 “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I think thats how the saying goes. You build off small steps in the right direction, not huge flailing leaps of misguided but well meaning intentions.

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    Jackattak January 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    @ toddistic –

    Well said and point taken.

    However, I must say that lives are being taken and not much is being done about it. I simply don’t feel like revocation of licensing privileges is asking too much when lives are on the line.

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    Matt Picio January 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I think the BTA is making a mistake with the vehicular homicide bill. Set the penalties higher, then during the inevitable legislative compromise, accept what’s listed here. Then come back in next session and push to up the penalties. By starting low, they’re effectively giving away the farm before getting anything in return.

    Push NOW, push hard, push often. This issue won’t be fixed until we are as loud, insistent and annoying as MADD was. What’s a human life worth? More than we’re getting here. I applaud the BTA for pushing this bill in the next session, but there needs to be more – not just from the BTA, but from all of us. Find out who your representatives are, and start putting the bug in their ear NOW.

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    KWW January 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    How about surveying what all states penalize for vehicular homicide, and then suggesting the upper end of the punishment?

    Also, for drivers who kill while violating a traffic law when their drivers’ license is suspended or revoked:
    permanent revocation of driver’s license, ie forever.

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    Another Doug January 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    KWW #10 – Check out the BTA’s testimony that is on their website. The proposal would put Oregon among the top 9 or 10 states in addressing drivers who kill.

    With respect to license suspension, the state suspends the licenses of about 250,000 people and convicts about 40,000 of DWS/DWR each year. Permanent revocation is easy to say, but without effective enforcement, it just means that many of those people will continue to drive, rack up DWR convictions, and not bother showing up in court or paying the fine.

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    are January 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    the proposal they made last year, hb 3399, included enhancements for repeat offenders. are we abandoning that approach?

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    q`Ztal January 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    #9
    Push NOW, push hard, push often. This issue won’t be fixed until we are as loud, insistent and annoying as MADD was.

    Great idea, where do I sign up?

    This great idea needs to not include the word “bicycle” or “bike” anywhere in it’s title. This is an all user effort: pedestrians, cyclists, and even other safe drivers that have been grieviously injured by vehicular “accidents”.

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    beth h January 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t think these penalties are nearly stiff enough, considering that the crime is vehicular homicide. Or are we looking at vehicular misdemeanor?
    There’s playing politics, and then there’s crafting real policy with balls.
    Once again the BTA looks like it’s taking the former tack — and in so doing, doesn’t speak for me.

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    q`Ztal January 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    As for huge flailing leaps of misguided but well meaning intentions.
    :

    While active duty from 97-03 the USAF, and I think the Army too, instituted a No Tolerance policy for DUIs. And by no tolerance they meant that you were AT LEAST losing your base driving privileges. For low ranking saps you could get a DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE after 1 DUI. This makes getting any civilian job difficult. What kind of loser gets kicked out of the military?
    They would place horribly mangled wrecks at the entrances and exits the gates so that you could look at them during the long lines to get past the MPs. Sometimes they would post gruesome pictures of accident victims.

    SURPRISE!!! DUIs went down. Other vehicular offences also declined.
    So I would have to say that CONUS military bases are a great case study for how draconian enforcement of vehicular laws can pay off.

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    Joe Adamski January 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measures/sb0400.dir/sb0420.intro.html SB 420 is legislation looking to amend current statute to allow electric bikes to use bike lanes with up to 35mph speed, up from the current 20mph limitation.
    Sponsored by Sen Girod (R-Stayton), it would wreck havoc on every bicycle facility in the State.Currently in committee,I hope it dies and never sees the light of day. It’s a Bill that might appeal to someone from rural Marion County, but has huge implications that make me worry that some misguided and possbily well intentioned legislators might vote for thinking it would benefit cycling in Oregon. BTA has not taken a position on this, and perhaps since its still in committee,it might be waiting to see if it comes out for discussion.But lets be aware and be ready to contact our legislators if it appears.

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    Another Doug January 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Re: #16 – SB 420 died in committee. It didn’t even get a hearing which indicates that there was virtually no support for it. It can always be introduced again in future years, but there’s no reason to believe that it will be resurrected in 2011. There are lots of bad bills introduced every legislative session. Thankfully, most of them don’ go anywhere.

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    jacob January 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Again a good example of why I won’t join the BTA. They’re weak, and ineffective.

    @ Matt #9

    Just like when I list something on craigslist, I list it a bit higher than I really want, then there’s room for me to bargain down to what I actually wanted.

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    Peter W January 27, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Alice awards the weekend before PSU finals. Bummer! Maybe one of these years I’ll find a way to make it to those.

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    Natty January 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    So .. if I kill you while robbing a convenience store, I get a manslaughter … if I’m still in the store, but if I’m barreling out of the parking lot onto the street and happen to run you over, I get less than a year?

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    Mark Allyn January 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Peter:

    That’s a good catch. I did not even think about the PSU finals.

    I was more concerned that this is during biking weather and *long* daylight.

    Having the awards in March at least had some *darkness* to convince us to go there instead of being out and about.

    June is an *outdoor* month. Long daylight and decent weather.

    I put in close to 1,000 miles last June.

    Mark

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    anonymous January 29, 2010 at 12:06 am

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It would seem a better focus to keep dangerous drivers off the road through better education and stricter, enforced laws with periodic testing requirements, especially for those found uninsured. If you are found driving with a suspended license, if you receive a DUI or any relatively serious offense, you should be required to recomplete driver’s ed, take another road and written test, and then provide evidence of coverage and a vehicle in good repair be for being considered to let drive again. Get pulled over for speeding while driving on a suspended license? How bout six months for that, before they end up killing someone?

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    Atbman January 31, 2010 at 3:39 am

    “The states … Hawaii and Idaho make it a misdemeanor to kill due to simple negligence even if there is no traffic law violation (!!!)

    Negligence isn’t a traffic law violation? You can drive along with your finger up your backside, tryng to prod what passes for your brains into action – and failing – and it’s not actually an illegal act?

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  • […] homicide They BTA unveiled their proposal for a new vehicular homicide law back in January. In a nutshell, their proposal would break the infraction into two levels of severity. The first, […]

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