HB397 – Help Pass Brandon’s Law to increase the penalty for hit-&-run crashes

Hit-and-run crashes are a serious problem in Ohio, especially for people on bikes and pedestrians, the two most vulnerable road user groups. One reason for the high percentage is that in Ohio the penalty for impaired driving and causing the injury or death of someone in a crash is greater than the penalty for hit-and-run crashes.

That is why we need you to contact your state Senator and tell them to pass HB397, also known as Brandon’s Law.

HB397 was introduced by Rep. Brian Hill at the urging of Tonya Pathtel. Tonya’s 14-year-old son, Brandon, was fatally struck by a motorist and his friend was thrown some 90 feet as a result of a collision on April 13th of 2013. The driver fled the scene and was picked up the following day. According to reports the driver admitted to consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana prior to driving the night he hit and killed Brandon and severely injured his friend.

If passed this legislation will increase the penalty for fleeing the scene where death or serious injury occurs to a felony of the second degree, placing the penalty for hit-&-run crashes on par with that of aggravated vehicular homicide (a felony of the second degree).

Currently HB397 is in the Ohio Senate Criminal Justice Committee. We need you to contact members of this committee telling them to support HB397 and to send it to the floor of the full Senate BEFORE the general assembly leaves for the Holiday. Members of the committee and their contact info are:

Sen. John Eklund, email him here, Phone: (614) 644-7718
Sen. Bill Seitz, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-8068
Sen. Eric Kearney, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-5980
Sen. Edna Brown, email her here, Phone: (614) 466-5204
Sen. Jim Hughes, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-5981
Sen. Frank LaRose, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-4823
Sen. Peggy Lehner, email her here, Phone: (614) 466-4538
Sen. Larry Obhof, email him here, Phone:  (614) 466-7505
Sen. Tim Schaffer, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-5838
Sen. Michael Skindell, email him here, Phone: (614) 466-5123

Here are some talking points you can use when you contact our state Senators:

I am calling to urge you to support HB 397, Brandon’s Law:

1. To send a clear message that the State of Ohio is going to punish drivers severely if they fail to stop, notify police and remain at the scene of the crash they caused.

2. By increasing the penalty for hit-and-run crashes, drivers will be dissuaded from fleeing the scene of the crash, helping to ensure that the victim gets assistance more promptly. 

You can read the full language of House Bill 397 here.

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