New law means longer sentence for repeat drunk drivers who kill someone


A bill known as "Drake's Law" – which will increase the penalty for killing someone while drunken driving, if you've been convicted of similar crimes before – was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton last week.

Currently, Minnesota law states a person convicted of vehicular homicide while driving drunk can get up to 10 years in prison.

Drake's law increases that sentence to 15 years – if the driver has been convicted of criminal vehicular homicide or a DWI in the past decade.

Why it's called Drake's Law

The bill was named after Drake Bigler – the son of Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball coach Brad Bigler. In 2012, five-month-old Drake was killed by a drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was four times above the legal limit. The accident also injured Bigler, his wife and her grandmother.

Dana Allen Schoen of Starbuck was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of criminal vehicular operation.

It was Schoen's third drunken driving offense since the year 2000, reported KEYC.

Bigler's wife Heather said that the sentence was “sparse” and that it didn’t “seem like the punishment fit the crime.”

How the law was passed

Drake's law passed both the state Senate and House unanimously, before being signed by Dayton Thursday.

The law will go into effect on August 1.

"This recognized the impact that it has an innocent family, and the taking of lives, and taking people out of families, and how devastating and tragic that is," said the bill's Senate author Gary Dahms, reported KARE 11.

Heather and Brad Bigler have campaigned to get the bill passed for two years, the station added.

"We're happy that everything came together," Brad Bigler told the Marshall Independent. "It's gratifying, for sure, to be able to not only protect our roads, but to know that people will be held accountable for making bad decisions."

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