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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Swedzinski introduces Drake’s Law, honors five-month-old victim

  • House File 3126 increases the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying offense.
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  • State Representative Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) introduced Drake’s Law yesterday in honor of Drake Bigler, the five-month-old son of Southwest Minnesota State University head men's basketball coach, Brad Bigler, who was killed by a drunk driver in July 2012.
    House File 3126 increases the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying offense. 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.
    “Drake’s Law is an important piece of legislation, not only because it honors the memory of Drake Bigler, but because it holds people accountable who repeatedly put others in harm’s way,” said Rep. Swedzinski. “What happened to the Bigler family was a preventable tragedy. The drunk driver had previous convictions, and if people cannot learn from their mistakes, the consequences should fit the crime. This is a reasonable approach to toughen our laws against repeat offenders who take innocent lives from behind the wheel.”
    In July 2012, a drunk driver, who was four times the legal limit, struck the Bigler family while driving to their cabin in Starbuck. Brad Bigler was critically injured along with family member Sharon Schuler. Brad’s wife, Heather Bigler, escaped with minor injuries. Their five-month old son, Drake Bigler, was killed.
    The drunk driver, who was uninjured in the crash, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. This was his third drunk driving offense since 2000.
    Brad and Heather Bigler hope that legislators will pass this bill into law.
    "We understand that people make mistakes—we all make them. However, a mistake repeated is no longer a mistake. Our five-month-old son, Drake,  was killed by a drunk driver, four times the legal limit, and on his third DWI. That is a blatant disregard for human life. This law change will help assure that repeated DWI offenses are no longer viewed as just a mistake."
    House File 3126 was introduced on Monday, March 17. It was referred to the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. Senator Dahms introduced the companion bill, Senate File 2731.

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