Alix's Law. That sounds right. Perfect, in fact.
It would leave a lasting legacy for the free-spirited, longboarding teen. It would permanently warm a spot in her mother's heart. It would prevent a judicial travesty from happening again.
There may be, in a bill getting traction in Albany, a silver lining to this mess of a case and monster of a tragedy.
Toughening a law will not bring back Alix Rice. Nothing can. But this bill -- named, as is common in Albany, after the person who inspired it -- would help. It would close the loophole in the drunk-driving law that James Corasanti drove his BMW through the night of July 8. It would mean drunk drivers who kill or maim could no longer flee and escape justice -- claiming they did not know they hit another human being.
Dodging justice for a hit-and-run drunk driver can, as the Corasanti verdict screamed, be as easy as stepping on the gas and playing dumb. It is the morally abysmal but legally smart move.
Not anymore. Not if this bill becomes law.
"I hope her memory lives on for many years," Tammy Schueler, Alix's mom, told me Friday. "So in that respect, this law would be a good thing And it would give me hope that this never happens again. No other family deserves to go through this."
A jury recently prompted outrage by finding the Getzville doctor not guilty of leaving the scene of a deadly crash after slamming into Rice -- who was longboarding home from work -- on Heim Road. The felony conviction would have put Corasanti in jail for as long as seven years and cost him his medical license. The jurors swallowed the doctor's "didn't see/didn't know" claim. Corasanti, who was still drunk five hours after the crash, was convicted of misdemeanor DWI.
The jury apparently disregarded the notion that, if Corasanti did not realize he hit someone, it was because he was too drunk to either avoid the collision or to understand the hood-buckling impact was not the mother of all potholes. Another possibility is he knew what he did, drove home and tucked the car in the garage to avoid the consequences.
The "didn't know" defense from a drunk driver sounds to me like the legal equivalent of "the dog ate my homework." Nice try, but it should not fly.
To my mind, the jurors stretched "reasonable doubt" into the realm of remotely possible. If this "No Excuses" bill becomes law, decisions will be taken out of the hands of overly impressionable jurors and put on the books. If you are driving drunk, hit and kill or maim someone, and do not stop, you are guilty of leaving the scene. Period.
"It defies logic that the law allows someone to drive while intoxicated and leave the scene [of a deadly crash] and not be held accountable," Patrick Gallivan said. "If someone is driving [drunk], why on earth would that person not be responsible for whatever follows?"
Why, indeed? It makes no sense to me. It makes no sense to Gallivan, the Republican state senator from Elma who is behind the bill. Gallivan is "cautiously optimistic" the bill -- which has an Assembly sponsor in Cheektowaga's Dennis Gabryszak -- will become law before legislators leave in two weeks.
Schueler, who has cried every day since her daughter was killed, hopes the law changes. "It's unfortunate that [the law] was not that way all along."
There is no changing the past. There is no bringing Alix back. There is no re-trying the criminal case. There is only what we can do today, and tomorrow.
Alix's law. It would close an escape route for hit-and-run drunk drivers. It would leave a life-loving teen a lasting legacy.