Topeka Legislative leaders on Friday ordered a review of the state's vehicular homicide law in response to a February traffic accident that killed a 19-year-old Tonganoxie woman.
"I feel there are some real holes in the Kansas vehicular homicide statutes," said state Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence.
"Given the complexity of the subject, I think it is very important to fully evaluate the topic in an interim committee," he said. "I expect compelling testimony that could eventually give district and county attorneys more discretion for filing charges in similar cases."
Pine requested the study in response to the Feb. 14 accident on Highway 24-40 in Basehor.
In that incident, a vehicle driven by Ricardo De-Leon Flores of Lansing struck the vehicle of Amanda Bixby, killing her, authorities said. Bixby was driving home from Nebraska Furniture Mart, where she worked.
Officials said Flores was initially charged with vehicular homicide, but later the Leavenworth County attorney dropped the charge, citing a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that held that the mere fact that the driver ran a red light or a stop sign didn't satisfy the legal requirements for a vehicular homicide charge. Flores has since pleaded not guilty to several other traffic violations in connection with the accident.
Bixby's parents and several prosecutors have expressed support for reviewing the vehicular homicide law.
The Legislative Coordinating Council assigned the review to an interim judiciary committee, which will make recommendations to the full House and Senate when lawmakers start the 2008 legislative session in January.
The committee will review whether prosecutors should have more discretion in filing vehicular homicide charges, and whether drug testing should be required in all vehicular homicide cases. The committee also will consider whether penalties should be increased for the charge.
Under current law, vehicular homicide is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.