(The Center Square) – A proposed bill that would enhance the prison sentence for impaired drivers who kill someone and injure others in Illinois has stalled.
The so-called “Lindsey’s Law” legislation would pave the way for law enforcement to charge intoxicated drivers with a Class 2 felony if they kill someone and also cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement of others.
Cosmetologist Lindsey Sharp, of Springfield, went to Walmart with her son and her boyfriend in 2015.
Antione Willis, 31, who had been drinking and smoking marijuana, hit the three in the parking lot with an SUV, killing Lindsey and critically injuring her young son and her boyfriend.
Then-State’s Attorney John Milhiser said Willis pleaded guilty and was given the maximum sentence that the law allowed.
State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, told The Center Square that the 14-year prison sentence was not long enough.
Under current Illinois law, Willis was sentenced for causing Sharp’s death.
The state was unable to add more years to his sentence for the injuries he caused to Sharp’s son and her boyfriend.
If Sharp’s son or her boyfriend had died, the state could have added more years to his prison term, but because they survived, the prosecutor’s hands were tied.
“That to me does not do justice to victims in our state,” McClure said.
Lindsey’s Law would remove that barrier, he said, and if it is passed by the state legislature the state could have charged an additional four to 20 years in prison for the injuries to the son and the boyfriend.
Following Sharp’s death, then-state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who used to represent the part of Springfield where Sharp’s family lived, attempted to change the law.
Sharp’s cause has been taken up by McClure, who now represents the district. He is convinced there is popular support for the change in the law.
“Anybody who reads this law and hears what happened to Lindsey and her family is inclined to support it,” McClure said.
The trouble is getting the bill out of committee. In past years, Lindsey’s Law never made it out of committee for a hearing.
McClure said people all over the state have told him to keep fighting for the bill.
“I just spoke with Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” McClure said. “They are on board. We have had a tremendous outpouring of support.”
With the spring legislative session adjourned, Senate Bill 1405 did not advance. Legislators return in the fall.
People who drive drunk or drive while high on drugs deserve tougher sentences, McClure said.
“We’ve backed this bill for several years in a row now, and it’s taking a toll on Lindsey’s mom,” McClure said. “I don’t think it is fair to Lindsey’s family to keep putting them through this. It’s time to get this moving.”