Stiffer Penalties Considered for Deadly, Careless Driving

Updated: 01/30/2013 10:52 AM KSTP.com By: Jessica Miles

There's a new push for harsher punishments after deadly crashes on Minnesota roads.

Deb Carlson, of Ramsey, lost her husband Craig to a careless driver in October of 2011.

Craig was working on the side of interstate 35-W in Burnsville when a driver looking down to turn off his cruise control hit and killed Craig and another man.

Under state law that driver was only charged with careless driving, a misdemeanor, and will only serve 30 days in jail.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom says, "There's no difference in the penalty if you hit a mailbox or if you hit and kill a human being, and I think the time has come for the law to recognize the severity of the harm that's caused to far too many families."

Backstrom wants to increase careless driving offenses from misdemeanors to gross misdemeanors, it would change the penalty from a maximum of 90 days in jail to one year.

But he says this is also about giving justice to victims families.

Carlson says she hopes the bill becomes law, and says she wants people to slow down on the roads, and pay attention to what is around you. She goes on to say, "life is short, as I've found out."

The bill will be introduced in the house on Thursday by Joe Atkins, a DFLer from Inver Grove Heights.