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State may get tougher on drivers who hit cops

RICHMOND—A Senate committee advanced a bill on Monday to strengthen penalties for hitting a police officer with your car, an issue that gained attention after the 2012 death of a trooper at the Virginia State Fair.

State Trooper Andrew Fox was killed at the Virginia State Fair in 2012, hit by a vehicle one night as he stood and directed traffic leaving the fair.

The driver of that vehicle, Angelica Christine Valencia of Doswell, received a fine and a 12-month suspended sentence, the punishment for a misdemeanor reckless driving charge.

But Fox’s family doesn’t think the punishment is enough.

“She got a thousand-dollar fine for a murder,” Stephanie Fox, wife of Andrew Fox’s father David, said Monday.

The Foxes came to Richmond from their home in Tazewell for a Senate committee hearing on the bill.

The proposed law would make a felony of reckless driving that causes the death or serious injury of a law enforcement officer, EMS personnel, highway worker or firefighter.

Sen. Phillip Puckett, D–Russell, said his bill would mandate a fine of $2,500—and up to $10,000 at the court’s discretion—as well as a year’s suspension of the offender’s driver’s license.

Puckett said his bill doesn’t apply to incidents where both parties are in vehicles. It’s aimed at law enforcement, emergency workers and highway workers who are standing along the road for duty reasons. Nor does it apply to accidents involving regular residents standing by the road, such as people hit by a vehicle while changing a flat tire.

The bill ran into few snags, Puckett said, and the Senate Courts of Justice Committee approved it, but sent it to the Finance Committee to work out whether it would cost money.

David Fox said he hopes the bill would protect other law enforcement and highway workers.

“Traffic is getting heavier every year,” he said. “I can’t bring my son back.”

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245

cdavis@freelancestar.com

 

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2014/01/27/state-may-get-tougher-on-drivers-who-hit-cops/