CONCORD — A mom urged lawmakers Wednesday to memorialize her Bow son by authorizing stiffer sentences for repeat drunken drivers who kill others on New Hampshire highways.
Beth Shaw continued her multi-year marketing campaign for reform, asking the Home Prison Justice and Public Security Committee to cross the “Tyler Shaw Legislation,” which might be named after her late son.
Tyler Shaw, 20, was in his truck, idling at a cease signal on the Exit 1 on-ramp of Interstate 89 on Logging Hill Street in Bow the evening of April 30, 2018, when Joseph Leonard, then 37, of Derry, drove his automobile into Shaw’s truck at about 60 mph, killing him immediately.
Leonard’s blood alcohol content material was .16, twice the authorized restrict, and the DWI case was his third, together with a 2010 conviction after one other accident when his BAC was thrice the authorized restrict.
“I all the time marvel if Mr. Leonard had served a while, any time, from his second conviction wouldn’t it have modified his habits. Extra importantly for me, would my son be alive at present?” Shaw mentioned.
Leonard is serving a six- to 12-year jail sentence after his conviction for negligent murder, which different states name vehicular murder.
This invoice (HB 179) would enhance the punishment in instances like Leonard’s to fifteen to 30 years. Anybody with one earlier DWI who killed somebody in an auto accident can be sentenced to state jail for 10 to twenty years.
“In case your son, daughter, partner or dad or mum had been senselessly, brutally murdered by an individual whose driving report is affected by drunk-driving convictions, would you’re feeling six years is an satisfactory punishment for the offender?” Shaw requested.
Former Senate Majority Chief Dan Feltes, D-Harmony, authored the identical invoice in 2020. The invoice handed the Senate, however the Home by no means acted on it (and dozens of different payments) after COVID-19 curtailed the legislative agenda.
Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, chairman of the panel that heard the invoice Wednesday, took up the trigger.
“I turned satisfied in listening to this case that there’s a clear hole within the legislation,” Abbas mentioned.
Katherine Cooper, government director of the New Hampshire Affiliation of Prison Protection Attorneys, was the one particular person to talk in opposition to the invoice.
“There is no such thing as a strategy to make these methods good. I do know that’s no comfort, however it’s sadly the fact,” Cooper mentioned. “This creates a significant escalation within the felony and for first offenders (for negligent murder).”
Cooper mentioned drunken-driving deaths have considerably dropped from their all-time highs within the Nineteen Eighties.
“Now we have made a number of progress on this nation, discouraging drunken driving,” Cooper mentioned. “There all the time are going to be individuals who don’t reply to that social messaging, particularly individuals with extreme alcohol abuse issues.”
After his second DWI conviction, Leonard was sentenced to 12 months in jail, however the decide suspended the whole time period. The decide ordered an ignition interlock system be put in in Leonard’s automobile to stop the automobile from beginning if it recorded a blood alcohol stage above the authorized restrict.
Shaw mentioned six months after it was put into the automobile, Leonard blew a .16 into the system, twice the authorized restrict.
In 2016, the state held a listening to on whether or not to maintain the system in place. A Division of Security hearings examiner prolonged using the system for an additional six months. However six months after it was eliminated, Leonard was driving residence drunk from his job in Lebanon when he killed Shaw.
“We are able to have a look at whether or not the six-month extension was lengthy sufficient. On reflection it in all probability was not,” mentioned Christopher Casko, administrator of hearings for the security company.