Motorists who kill or seriously injure someone while running a red light would face stiffer penalties under a bill approved by the Iowa Senate this morning. The bill was dubbed “Jermiah’s Law” in honor of a young central Iowa man who was hit and killed by a motorist who ran a red light. Jermiah’s mother, Jody Dosser, was at the statehouse when the senate passed the bill.
“It will not help our situation, but our situation will be able to help others,” She says. “…We’re very proud that it has gotten this far.” The driver of the pickup truck that hit Dosser was charged with two traffic citations, simple misdemeanors that each carry a 35 dollar fine. Jody Dosser and her husband raised their son in Osage. The couple, who retired to Arizona, have become outspoken advocates for a new state law that would allow law enforcement to impose stiffer penalties in cases similar to theirs.
“Being coaches and administrators in education and being a mother, the most important role of the mother, Jermiah could not speak for himself anymore and Rick and I became his advocate,” she says. “And in becoming his advocate, we found that there was a grey area.”
Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says the current penalty for running a red light is a $35 fine. “Those who, for whatever reason, run a red light and cause injury or death should know that their actions will result in a more severe penalty than a parking ticket,” Ragan said.
Jermiah Dosser was riding his motorcycle to work in Altoona on March 22, 2007 when he was struck and killed by a motorist who ran a red light. Dosser died nine days prior to his 25th birthday. Under the proposed legislation, when a driver runs a red light and seriously injures another person, the fine would increase to $500 and/or suspension of driving privileges for up to 90 days.
If someone dies as a result of a driver running a red light, the fine can be up to $1,000 and the loss of driving privileges for up to 180 days. As Jody Dosser watched the senate debate from a third-floor balcony, Senator Staci Appel, a Democrat from Ackworth, thanked Dosser for bringing the matter to the legislature’s attention.
“I speak to Jody up there, as a mother of six children, I can only possibly understand what you’ve been going through,” Appel said. “This bill can hopefully save lives.” Jody and Rick Dosser adopted Jermiah in 1982. The driver of the pickup, 48-year-old Richard Fuller, was hospitalized for more than a week for a medical condition after running the red light. Fuller reportedly suffered a stroke before the crash.
Jody Dosser coached volleyball at Osage High School from 1973 through 2000, leading Osage to ten state tournaments. Dosser then was volleyball coach at Waldorf College in Forest City ’til 2007. She and her husband have also been advocates of organ donation. Their son had signed up as an organ donor and doctors were able to use his cornea and other tissues for transplants.