Bill targets drugged drivers

Proposal mandates testing for those who have caused deaths

March 02, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A bill inspired by Kirk R. DeCosmo, a drug trafficker convicted in one Glen Burnie case of vehicular homicide a decade ago and charged in another this year, brought tearful testimony before a legislative committee yesterday from the sister of his first victim.

House Bill 1071, which would require monthly drug testing for drivers who have killed while under the influence, was endorsed by B.J. Brokus; her sister, Freda Kay Seifert, 44, died in a fiery 1987 collision on Ritchie Highway caused by DeCosmo.

"We need stronger legislation," Brokus said at the House Judiciary Committee hearing before she broke down, sobbing. "Our family is reliving this whole thing again."

Such a law might have prevented DeCosmo from driving two months ago, when he was involved in a collision on Furnace Branch Road that killed a 61-year-old Ferndale man, said Del. James E. Rzepkowski, an Anne Arundel Republican.

If his bill is not passed, Rzepkowski said, "a guy like this could be licensed again in five years. It is despicable."

DeCosmo, 38, of Severn, was sentenced in 1988 to five years in prison for vehicular homicide in Seifert's death, but acquitted of driving under the influence of PCP.

His lawyer argued that although DeCosmo tested positive for the drug, there was no evidence it had affected his driving.

In 1995, after being convicted of drug dealing, DeCosmo was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He served six weeks before the judge agreed to release him into a one-year drug rehabilitation program.

A second victim

DeCosmo was still on probation from that drug conviction when he was charged in January with vehicular homicide in the death of 61-year-old Harry Wolford Dailey.

Witnesses told police that DeCosmo's van, which had been speeding down Furnace Branch Road, swerved across the center line and into the path of Dailey's pickup truck.

Police said they found two grams of marijuana in DeCosmo's van after the crash.

Dailey, a truck mechanic from Ferndale, was married and had seven children and a dozen grandchildren.

Rzepkowski said Dailey's family was too distraught to appear at yesterday's hearing, but supported the bill.

Monthly tests

The measure would require any person convicted of vehicular homicide or manslaughter while under the influence of drugs to participate in drug rehabilitation and undergo monthly testing.

Testing positive for drugs would result in permanent revocation of the driver's license.

Rzepkowski's bill does not specify how long the drug testing would continue.

The measure was among more than a dozen bills seeking to place tougher restrictions on drunken or drugged drivers on which Judiciary Committee members heard testimony yesterday.

The committee is scheduled to vote on them tomorrow.

Duplication check

Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D-Prince George's, said members were reviewing whether HB 1071 would duplicate testing required in some cases by the Motor Vehicle Administration's Medical Advisory Board.

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