St. Paul- State Representative Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) introduced Drake’s Law this week. The bill, which was originally introduced during last year’s session, was re-introduced for the 2015 session on Monday, January 12th. The bill is named in honor of Drake Bigler, the five month old son of Brad and Heather Bigler, who was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident in 2012. Drake’s father, Brad, is the head basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
“House File 71 will help strengthen our state’s drunk driving conviction laws by increasing the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying offense,” Swedzinski said. Qualifying prior DWI offenses include an aggravating factor such as injury to a person or damage to property. The maximum sentence would be increased from 10 to 15 years.
In July of 2012, a drunk driver struck the Bigler’s family van as they were making their way to the family cabin in Starbuck, MN. The driver was four times the legal limit. Brad was critically injured in the crash along with family member Sharon Schuler. His wife Heather escaped with minor injuries. Unfortunately, five month old Drake was killed in the accident.
The drunk driver, who was uninjured, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. It was his third drunk driving offense since 2000.
“Drake’s Law is important not only because it honors the life of Drake Bigler, but it also toughens our state’s drunk driving laws for those who are repeat offenders,” said Swedzinski. “Everyone makes mistakes. However, those that continually put others in harm’s way by driving drunk show a clear disregard for human life. This bill will help to ensure that repeat offenders are punished to the full extent of the law.”
House File 71 was introduced in the House on January 12th. It was referred to the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. Its Senate companion bill, Senate File 82, was also introduced January 12th by Senator Gary Dahms.