Rotary Club of Winnfield Rotarian Chris Nevils decided to take his turn to host a guest speaker as a chance to catch the club up on what he has been up to in his position as District Attorney of the 8th Judicial District.
Nevils began by ensuring everyone that the day to day business at the DA’s office is going pretty smooth. Cases are moving through the courts and they are keeping an eye on the finances.
He went on to explain that he is a member of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association. The LDAA’s mission is to improve Louisiana’s justice system and the office of District Attorney by enhancing the effectiveness and professionalism of Louisiana’s District Attorneys and their staffs through education, legislative involvement, liaison, and information sharing. He highlighted that the Executive Director of the LDAA is a full-time lobbyist. The LDAA Board members and even regular members that are just interested will go the state capital to visit with legislators and/or lobby for funds if necessary. This organization also has groups that assist legislators with drafting Bills.
He has recently been asked to serve on a committee to assist the LSU Louisiana Law Institute in assisting legislators in drafting a Bill. The people that serve on this committee are volunteers from all over the state that volunteer their time to try to do something good for our state, said Nevils. The name of the proposed law is the Vulnerable Road Users Protection Act. The VRU law would provide important legal protection to “vulnerable” people on the streets. This category consists of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and highway construction workers. Nevils group at the Louisiana Law Institute added groups that are operating tractors, handicap scooters, wheelchairs, and skateboarders. The proposed law would include giving judges the ability to pass sentences such as licenses suspension, jail time, mandatory completion of a driver safety course or community service if they are proved to be not necessarily criminally impaired but impaired or distracted in any way while committing a violation such as illegal lane change and then injure or kill vulnerable road users. The current laws in place do not provide any foundation to prosecute drivers for anything other than a traffic violation if they kill or injure a vulnerable road user.
The Bill has a sponsor and an RS number assigned. They will submit a final draft of the Bill to the Committees that issued the Resolution. The Committee will then decide if it’s something they want to go forward with. Nevils encouraged the club members to watch for the Bill and if they agree with it to contact their legislators in support of it.
This is an issue close to Nevils’s heart as he is an avid bicyclist logging over 50,000 miles in the last eight to nine years all over the state and all over the south and has been hit by a vehicle himself while cycling. He also hopes this law will help DA’s be able to give some comfort to victim’s families by reassuring them that justice will be served in these cases.
Nevils concluded the presentation by saying that he is honored to get to do the job he loves and he hopes that voters will allow him to continue to do so in the upcoming election.