- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota Senate panel approved Attorney General Marty Jackley’s proposal to stiffen sentences for vehicular homicide on Thursday, sending it to the full Senate.

The proposal, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 6-1 vote, would classify vehicular homicide - in which a drunken driver causes the death of another person - as a crime of violence.

In South Dakota, the maximum sentence for vehicular homicide is 15 years in prison. The bill would not change the maximum sentence, but would require offenders to serve more of their prison time.

But because the crime is classified as nonviolent, Jackley said, many offenders have to serve only about four years of that before becoming eligible for parole, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2jt2E0B ) reported.

Six cases of vehicular homicide were reported in South Dakota in 2016, Jackley said. Serious vehicular homicide cases in the state make the crime a “continuing concern,” he said.

“I think we ought to just call it what it is, a violent crime,” Jackley said.

Paul Bachand, a lobbyist for the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, supported the bill, while Lindsey Riter-Rapp of the South Dakota Criminal Defense Attorneys opposed it.

Other crimes designated as violent in South Dakota include murder, rape, aggravated assault and kidnapping, Riter-Rapp said, pointing out that someone driving while drunk would not have the same intention of wrongdoing when they crash their car and contribute to another person’s death.

The same bill failed last year after House and the Senate committees were unable to agree on amendments.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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