A man drives recklessly, killing a mother and injuring her two small children. And he spends no time in prison. It doesn’t seem fair. And in fact, it isn’t.

It happened in Chandler, Arizona – a man named William Epperlein failed to see a red light. He had a long history of DUI, speeding, and other traffic violations, and did not even have a valid license, so it would seem that the court would throw the book at him for this egregious misstep.

But the court declined to prosecute.

The reason was a technicality centering around the difference between a suspended license and a revoked one. Epperlein was to have his license revoked for his DUI, which would have made his more recent fatal collision a prosecutable offense. But he made a deal: purchase SR-22 insurance (an expensive  insurance designed for high-risk drivers) and meet other restrictions and he could keep the license. In fact, Epperlein blew off the SR-22 insurance, which resulted in a suspended-but not revoked- license. Driving on a suspended license is not as serious as driving with a revoked one.

A curious Arizona loophole, but one through which justice was lost, according to the family of the victim, Pamela Hesselbacher.

House Bill 2522 might change that. The bill would hold all repeat offenders who cause collisions leading to death or injury liable for their actions.

It’s too late for Pamela Hesselbacher, but the bill is a sensible one, designed to protect innocents on the road. It’s time to close this Arizona loophole and hold offenders responsible for the damage they do.

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