Governor Donald L. Carcieri today joined Colonel Brendan Doherty, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, Representatives Peter Kilmartin and Donna Walsh, Senator James E. Doyle, II, and members of the Foote family at a ceremony to formally into law H8515Aaa & S2946aa, the "Colin B. Foote Act."
The legislation creates a habitual offender violation in the traffic tribunal, where it may suspend or revoke the license, for up to one year, of any individual convicted of four separate and distinct, specifically-defined moving violations within an 18-month period. Under the measure, the driver would also face a fine of up to $1,000 and be ordered to attend 60 hours of driving retraining and perform 60 hours of public community restitution. The bill was introduced in response to a recent accident in which a repeat traffic violator killed Colin B. Foote, a motorcycle driver in Charlestown.
"By enacting this law, we are taking the necessary measures to keep repeat traffic offenders from getting behind the wheel, make our roads safer, and better protect our innocent citizens," said Governor Carcieri. "The Colin Foote Act will close a loophole in our laws and provide the courts with the tools they need to keep those who have a record of driving dangerously time and time again off of our roads. This was a senseless tragedy that broke all of our hearts. Rhode Island is like one big family. When tragedy touches one of us, it touches us all. And as we have so often before during times of sorrow, our community and our government leaders have responded. As we sign this measure today, we honor the memory of Colin Foote, a hardworking, kind and compassionate young man who had so many talents to share with our world."
"We're grateful that the Governor, the General Assembly, and the citizens of Rhode Island responded decisively to pass Colin's Law in an effort to prevent another family from having to suffer the horrible tragedy we must now endure. Colin died at the hands of a repeat offender of serious traffic violations, and now law enforcement and the judicial system have the tools to prevent another tragedy," said Colin's father, Robin Foote.
"I applaud Governor Carcieri for signing this bill into law and giving the courts the tools they need to revoke or suspend the licenses of those motorists who have driven irresponsibly and dangerously on more than one occasion. I can only hope that this new law will prevent senseless tragedies like the one that brought this issue to light in the first place," said Representative Peter Kilmartin, sponsor of the "Colin B. Foote Act."
Senator James E. Doyle, II, said, "I thank Governor Carcieri, Representatives Kilmartin and Walsh, and, most of all, the Foote family, for their courage and leadership on this important legislation. While nothing we do can take away the pain and suffering of the Foote family, the signing of this legislation will help to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedy. In that way, Colin Foote has made Rhode Island a better place."
Representative Donna Walsh, co-sponsor of the legislation added, "Tightening traffic laws will ensure that repeat offenders are not given several chances to kill and maim innocent victims. With this new law, giving repeat offenders one more chance is no longer an option. I have known the Foote family, who live in my district, for many years, and my heart goes out to them. We worked so hard for passage of this bill to make sure that Colin's life will never be forgotten."