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Softened reckless driving bill passes committee

CARSON CITY — A bill that would instill stiffer penalties for reckless drivers was unanimously passed Thursday — after it was amended to soften the punishment.

Senate Bill 410, aimed at reckless drivers who kill or seriously injure bicyclists and pedestrians, was written to make the crime a felony punishable by one to six years in prison.

But the Assembly Transportation Committee amendment would make the crime a gross misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Reckless driving is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and the suspension of a driver’s license.

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas, said the committee considered a felony charge is “too extreme.”

The bill sponsor, Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, said after the meeting he has concerns about the change, but appreciates the committee vote, which keeps the discussion moving forward. He plans to discuss the bill changes with bicycle and safety advocates.

The initial version of the bill had widespread support from the bicyclist community, including the Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition.

The organization has highlighted tragedies that demonstrate the need for stricter laws: the 2015 death of Matthew Hunt, a 37-year-old who was hit by a distracted driver on the Strip; and the April 18 death of 51-year-old surgeon Kayvan Khiabani, who was hit while bicycling near Red Rock Resort.

More than two dozen pedestrians and bicyclists have been killed so far this year in the Metropolitan Police Department’s jurisdiction.

The original bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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