In late 2007, Sen. Soto was faced with the tragic death of young honors student Luis Rivera-Ortega who was hit while on the sidewalk by a driver involved in a street race. This call to action inspired Darren to push for several street racing reforms to make our streets safer. In 2008, he passed legislation creating fines for spectators of street racing events to give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these dangerous gatherings. In 2009, Darren passed additional legislation increasing fines and license suspension as well as amending the street racing definitions to assure enforceability.
The following year Sen. Soto passed the last reform creating enhanced penalties for third or subsequent violations to crack down on habitual street racers. The Rivera-Ortega Family was able to witness this final reform be passed on the floor of the Florida Senate in 2010 with the help of Rep. Soto and Sen. Lee Constantine and community support fostered by Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart.
In 2010, Sen. Soto also passed important legislation closing a sad loophole that left families of fallen firefighters who died in training exercises without death benefits or health insurance. This legislation was inspired by the tragic death of John C. Curry who died in a training exercise while serving as a Volusia County Firefighter. Similar training deaths have also occurred in Osceola County and around our state. Backed by an army of brave firefighters from Central Florida and beyond, Darren passed this legislation in the last hour of the 2010 session after many thought the legislation was lost for another session. The Curry Family was able to witness this last-minute victory on the floor of the Florida House. The legislation stands as a testament of thanks for our brave Florida firefighters who keep our citizens safe from harm every day.
In 2010, Darren also passed the bus driver notification act which informs school bus drivers and other non-teacher personnel when a child in their care has been charged with a felony. This legislation was passed to assure bus drivers have also necessary information to keep our children safe on their way to and from school.