AUSTIN (KXAN) - Nearly two years after Courtney Griffin was killed in a hit-and-run accident, Texas law could be changing because of her death.
The Texas House of Representatives followed the lead of the senate and unanimously passed SB 275 which increases Failure to Stop and Render Aid to a second-degree felony in cases where a death occurs.
The bill now only requires Gov. Rick Perry's signature to become the new law.
After the death of his daughter, a controversial trial, and frustrations with jury decision , Bart Griffin says the new legislation is finally something his family can smile about.
"With the whole criminal aspect of the case, we just never got the chance to heal," said Bart Griffin. "Working on the bill was therapeutic in a lot of ways and it was something we could feel good about."
Proving Gabrielle Nestande was drunk while behind the wheel in the May 2011 accident that killed Griffin turned out to be more than prosecutors were able to accomplish during the February 2013 trial.
Nestande was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, but not guilty of the more serious charge of intoxication manslaughter.
She was found not guilty of Failure to Stop and Render Aid.
Bart Griffin thinks that leaving the scene of the accident turned out to be beneficial to Nestande's cause because no breathalyzer or blood test could be conducted.
"That you can be incentivized for leaving the scene never made sense to us," said Griffin.
It was after his first meeting with the district attorney's office, Griffin decided he would work to change the law.
The Griffin family along with the family of Mark Gobble worked with legislators to close the perceived loopholes in the law.
That work that will be validated once the bill is signed into law.
"We are very pleased."
By increasing Failure to Stop and Render Aid from 3 rd degree felony to a 2 nd degree felony, it eliminates much of the perceived benefits of leaving the scene.
A second bill, HB 3668, would require a driver to return to the scene and make sure a person is not injured if they are involved in an accident.
Gabrielle Nestande testified during trial that she left the scene because she thought she hit a deer.
HB 3668 is still going through the preliminary readings.
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