Buoyed by their late daughter’s belief in positive change, Marc and Ivie Cremer returned to Beacon Hill Tuesday to urge lawmakers to adopt tougher penalties for those who drive with suspended licenses.
“This is all about Haley,’’ Marc Cremer said of his latest push to change state driving laws, an effort that began in June 2014 when the couple’s 20-year-old daughter, Haley Cremer, was struck and killed by a SUV driven by a man with a suspended license. “We are trying to carry on her altruistic approach to life.”
The Cremers testified before the Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee in support of a measure that would allow judges to impose gradually tougher prison sentences each time a person drives with a suspended license.
Under the proposal, sentences would range from six months to 15 years for those convicted for injuring or killing someone while driving with a suspended license.
“There needs to be proper penalties to go along with this crime,’’ Marc Cremer said in a telephone interview. “This is a good bill that clearly addresses a gap that needs to be closed. We need to target people who blatantly disregard the law.”
Haley Cremer played a key role in the creation of an antibullying program in the Sharon public schools and was studying physical therapy at Simmons College when she was killed while jogging in her Sharon neighborhood.
The driver, Jeffrey Bickoff, was convicted of motor vehicle homicide and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars.
Bickoff was prosecuted by Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, who testified in support of the measure Tuesday.
The Bickoff case underscored flaws in information sharing between the Registry of Motor Vehicles and local police, Morrissey said. Sharon police were never notified by the RMV that Bickoff’s license had been suspended, and they might have arrested him if they had known and spotted him behind the wheel, officials have said.
The Cremers successfully fought for a legislative change on that issue: State law now requires the RMV to notify local police each time a driver’s license is suspended.
Marc Cremer said the current measure would not apply to people whose licenses are suspended for failing to pay parking tickets or RMV fees. Instead, it would affect drivers who have been convicted in criminal court.
“We are trying to get the people who have a blatant disregard of the law and are reckless,’’ Marc Cremer said. “They decide they are above the law and get behind the wheel. And they have to know that they are going to pay dearly when they take a life — as was the case with my daughter.’’
Morrissey said the proposal has drawn support from nearly 30 lawmakers. On Tuesday, no one spoke in opposition to the proposal, and members of the judiciary committee appeared receptive, Cremer said.
“It was very emotional for us, and it was very emotional for them,” Cremer said.