ILLINOIS — A suicide may actually play a part in changing state DUI laws.
Some are currently pushing Conor’s Law. It’s named after a 20-year old Macoupin County college student who killed himself after a drunk driving arrest.
After someone is pulled over for a DUI and taken into custody, the new law would require officers to keep a minor in custody until he or she is sober or is picked up by someone. Here’s the reason for the change.
“He had a full ride to Blackburn College. He was going to be a vet so lots of big future endeavors.”
A sophomore at Blackburn College and valedictorian at Staunton High School, you could say Conor Vesper was on his way to a bright future. But, all of it came to a halt one night in May 2015.
“He was pulled over by Macoupin County Sheriff’s Department, then taken in with a .124 block alcohol level, was released on bail and left to walk alone 13 blocks.”
After the 20-year old was released, he got behind the wheel again, this time a friend’s car and still legally drunk.
“Officers tried to pull him over again and he was still impaired. He didn’t stop. He came home and we did not know he was home and several municipalities were chasing him.”
Vesper was driving to his Staunton home. When he arrived, he ran inside, grabbed a gun and stood outside a window where he took his own life.
“Our lives have never been the same. We don’t want another family to have to go through this.”
Now the Vesper’s are teaming up with lawmakers to make sure these situations are avoided in the future.
Conor’s Law would prevent law enforcement from releasing someone under 21, who was arrested for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It requires police to be responsible for their care until there are clear signs they are no longer impaired.
“We want them to either keep them or have someone responsible pick them up.”
Senator Andy Manar (D) is helping the Vesper’s pass the bill. However, law enforcement does have some opposition to it.
“To make sure police officers don’t have opportunity to hold and detain individuals longer than they should.”
Despite the opposition, Manar and the Vesper’s remain confident.
“Their motivation is to make sure this doesn’t happen again and I think we can get that done.”
The bill passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Tuesday night. Manar says he hopes to get more police officers on board with the proposal.
He says Missouri has had the law on the books for a few years and believes its model can play an important part in getting support for the bill.
This weekend, Conor is being honored by Blackburn College. His family will get an honorary bachelor’s degree. Vesper began college with those graduating this year.