HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The grieving sister of a fallen Honolulu police officer on Wednesday tearfully urged state lawmakers to make Hawaii's roads safer for officers and other emergency responders. With her emotions still raw, Amanda Stevens testified in support of the so-called Move Over bill.
Being three-and-a-half years older than her brother, Stevens says she always tried her best to protect him. Now, she's on a mission to protect others.
Honolulu police and EMS officials walked from HPD headquarters to the state Capitol to support the sister of fallen patrol officer Garret Davis.
"I lost my baby brother, but we're not the only ones who lost someone," Stevens said through tears. "The police department here lost a proud officer and the world lost a great man."
The 28-year-old was killed in a fiery crash on the H1 Freeway January 21st, after he had pulled over to help a stranded motorist.
The Move Over bill would require drivers to slow down and change lanes when they see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles to give safe clearance. Failing to do so would be a criminal offense -- not just a traffic violation -- with possible jail time.
"I can't protect him anymore, so I'm asking you to help me to protect everyone else's brother and sister, father, mother, son and daughter, and pass this bill," Stevens said.
Forty-nine states have some version of a Move Over law.
"A bill that makes people move over is not going to clog the streets or turn the highways into a parking lot," Isaac Stevens, Officer Davis' brother in law, said. "We've had a bill on the books in California, where we live, for years."
Also part of the push was the widow of Police Officer Eric Fontes, who was struck and killed by a vehicle during a routine traffic stop last September.
"The cost of raising awareness is nothing compared to the cost of a life," LiAnn Fontes, officer's widow, said through tears. "A life is something we can never get back."
While city prosecutors support the measure, they're pushing for an amendment that would reduce the crime from a full misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail, to an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.
"The reason why is 'cause when you have a misdemeanor, they have a right to jury trial and that may clog the courtroom," Keith Kaneshiro, Honolulu prosecutor, said. "So we're looking at this as probably a petty misdemeanor."
Members of the House Public Safety and Transportation committees rose in honor of the two fallen officers, and then passed HB 2030 unanimously. The measure now goes to the House Judiciary panel for consideration.