Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack signed a bill into law April 6 increasing the
penalties for drivers at fault for wrecks where someone is killed or seriously
injured. The effort won widespread support in the General Assembly.
The measure was sought in reaction to a June 2002 accident in Tama County, IA, where three motorcyclists were killed and others were seriously injured, The Quad-City Times reported.
The wreck happened when the driver fell asleep and crossed the center
line. The driver was acquitted of vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges
and received only a $70 fine.
Under the new law, drivers who break traffic laws – such as failure to
yield or interfering with the right-of-way – in wrecks that cause serious
injury could face additional fines up to $500 and/or suspension of driving
privileges for up to 90 days. If someone is killed because of their negligence,
the fine could jump to $1,000 and/or as much as 180 days without driving
The new law, previously SF2267, also requires driver education courses
in the state to include instruction about how to share the road with
motorcycles and bicycles.