SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- State lawmakers say they are one step closer to closing a loophole in the law that benefits drivers under the influence who leave the scene of an accident.
Susan Gladding tried to keep her composure as the Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously passed a bill written in honor of her late husband, Gavin.
“It’s, frankly, pretty overwhelming and as I was hearing them vote, I just, it’s very emotional. I’m just so thankful,” Gladding said.
Central Valley man Gavin Gladding was out jogging in 2018 when he was hit and killed by a suspected drunken, unlicensed driver Rogelio Álvarez. Álvarez spent about a year in prison after being sentenced to three.
Although supporters of the bill had to wait almost a year to hear it pass out of committee, they said Tuesday's vote was worth the wait.
DUI drivers who get caught in a fatal crash can face many more years in prison than those who leave the scene and sober up.
Gavin’s Law aims to close the gap, boosting the maximum prison sentence for deadly hit-and-run drivers from four years to six.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson credits Susan’s tearful testimony last session for swaying lawmakers to move it forward.
"He was a beloved educator. He was a prince of a husband, father, leader in our community and he was run over, left on the side of the road by the person that killed him. And instead of calling 911, being a human being, trying to help this person survive, taking the consequences like a decent human being, this individual fled, stayed on the run for almost four days, and as a result, sobered up” Patterson said.
The bill’s next hurdle will be in the Appropriations Committee before it lands on the Assembly floor.
Ashley Zavala filed this report.