SACRAMENTO, CA (KMJ) – Gavin’s Law, sponsored by Valley Assemblyman Jim Patterson passes Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
Patterson’s Office said the bill will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee the week of January 20th, then if approved it would continue to the Assembly floor.
AB 582 is named in honor of Gavin Gladding, a Clovis Unified Vice Principal, who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver, in September 16, 2018.
Gladding was jogging in Northeast Fresno near Friant and Copper in the early morning, when he was struck and left to die on the side of the road.
Supporters of Gavin’s Law say the driver, Rogelio Alvarez Maravilla, was suggested to be drunk at the time, and received too lenient a sentence.
Court documents say 18 year-old Maravilla and his girlfriend were returning from a party when he struck Gladding with his truck, then left the scene.
He was believed to have been drinking just prior to the accident, and hid from law enforcement for weeks before being caught.
Maravilla was sentenced to three years in prison in November 2018.
Gavin’s family learned that he was released on probation in December 2019 after spending only one year in prison.
Assembly-member Patterson is behind the AB-582, the legislation is co-authored by Assembly members Patterson (R-Fresno) as well as Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), and two state senators including Republican Andreas Borgeas.
Under California law, the maximum punishment for a fatal hit-and-run accident is only four years behind bars.
DUI drivers get several more years behind bars if caught, however, those who leave the scene of an accident and sober up before arrest can avoid additional felony DUI charges completely.
Patterson said the Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee had initially recommend a ‘no’ vote, and several members of the committee admitted they were prepared to vote against the bill.
It changed after passionate testimony from Gavin’s widow, Susan, at the bill’s first hearing in the Public Safety Committee in March of 2019.
“The way that the California Law is written today incentivizes (sic) the driver to flee the scene, rather than to stop and to assist the individual that they have critically injured with their vehicle,” -Susan Gladding’s Testimony.
“The Gladding family told their story, and absolutely changed the minds of the majority on that committee, I sat here and saw it happen,” said Assembly-member Patterson, after the hearing in March.
Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: