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Sample Letter to Senators (copy & paste)
by Lonny's Daughters (lonnysdaughters)
at June 20th, 2008 (11:36 am)

Dear Senator,                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
I am contacting you regarding a proposed vehicular homicide law in Oregon. In most states in the United States, vehicular homicide is a crime. In general, it involves death that results from the negligent operation of a vehicle, or that results from driving whilst committing an unlawful act that does not amount to a felony. In general, it is a lesser charge than manslaughter. In the Model Penal Code there is no separate category of vehicular homicide, and vehicular homicides that involve negligence are included in the overall category of negligent homicide.
 
As I'm sure you are aware, all states except Alaska, Montana, Arizona and Oregon have vehicular homicide statutes. These laws have the effect of making a vehicle a potentially deadly weapon, to allow for easier conviction and more severe penalties. In states with such statutes, defendants can still be charged with manslaughter or murder in some situations. The victim may be either a person not in the car with the offender, such as a cyclist, pedestrian or another motorist, or a passenger in the vehicle with the offender.
 
Lonny Friberg, was killed by a careless driver on March 18, 2008 at the intersection of Highway 30 and Cornelius Pass Road. The other driver was driving a full-size Ford truck and towing a trailer when he ran the red light and hit Mr. Friberg on the driver's side, as he was turning onto the highway towards Scappoose, killing him instantly. According to Chuck Sparks of the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, because there is no vehicular homicide law on the books in Oregon, these kinds of cases are near impossible to prosecute. I am sure you have also been contacted by others regarding this proposal, namely Mary O'Donnell, the widow of a bicyclist who was also killed by a careless driver last year (http://www.katu.com/news/19669639.html). You may also have seen the news story KATU did on Lonny Friberg's case (http://www.katu.com/news/19961609.html).  It is clear that this is an important issue to Oregonians, and in speaking with various people, it appears that many people were not even aware that this law did not exist here. Due to the nature of news reports conventionally only covering the accidents themselves and not following up on the prosecution side of things, it seems that many people simply assume these laws are in place and the individuals responsible are prosecuted accordingly. It is not until this kind of tragedy strikes their own families that they see just how flawed and incomplete Oregon's laws are regarding vehicular homicides.
 
I hope that you can find time to address the vehicular homicide issue, as it seems we are behind many other states in implementing such a law. At present, many cases are not prosecuted and the burden of enforcement falls upon the civil courts. In my opinion, this is an inadequate deterrent for this type of behavior, especially when the individual responsible has little or no assets on which to base such a lawsuit. In addition, I feel that drivers should take the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle very seriously, because just like a firearm, it can easily take someone's life if not handled properly. It is my sincere belief that a new law addressing these issues and stiffer penalties for careless driving would force people to realize just how important it is to pay careful attention when driving. This would, in turn, help keep the roads safer and hopefully prevent another family from having to spend a holiday without their loved one.
 
I wish to express my appreciation for reading my letter, and in advance for any assistance you can offer in this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
(Your Name)