Valley parents rally to pass 'Joe's Law' in memory of their teen son

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Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Steve and Tana Smith are hoping to get "Joe's Law" passed in honor of their son, Joe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The parents of a teen boy killed in a car crash hope that the passage of "Joe's Law" will change the way deadly accidents are handled, and will save other parents from heartache.

Steve and Tana Smith's son, Joe, a recent Horizon High School graduate, was killed in a deadly car crash on June 17, 2016, near Quartzsite, AZ. Three of his friends who were also in the car were seriously injured,

The grieving mother and father have teamed up with state lawmakers to create "Joe's Law," which would change the way drivers in deadly accidents are treated. The Smiths were joined by supporters, community members and many teenagers to rally for the law at the state capitol Thursday morning.

Later in the day, the Senate committee voted unanimously to recommend that the bill move forward. The bill still needs a full Senate vote before going to the House of Representatives.

[RELATED: Grieving Phoenix parents hope to ease others' pain through 'Joe's law']

Joe and his three buddies had been driving back to Phoenix after vacationing in California, to celebrate their graduation from Horizon High School.

The boys had reportedly slowed down due to an accident, when an 18-wheeler barreled into them and another vehicle.

"The traffic had stopped and a semi didn't see that there was a line of traffic stopped, and barrelled into them, killing my son, killing the man behind them, paralyzing the man's wife and seriously injuring Joe's three friends," said Joe's mom, Tana.

Seven months after the deadly crash, the truck driver has not been charged with any crime. He was not tested at the time for possible impairment.

Arizona law does not require that drivers in deadly accidents be given a drug or alcohol test. 

"Had we known whether or not this driver was impaired, it would make this unbearable situation easier to cope with," said Steve. "The not knowing, because no test was done in our case, is agonizing."

"We will never know," said Tana. "We do not want families to go through what we've been going through for seven months... not knowing if there were mitigating circumstances that caused this."

The decision to test or not test a driver involved in an accident is left to the discretion of the officers on the scene, according to state statute.

However, the Smiths are hoping to change that with the help of Joe's Law.

Joe's parents have been working with state lawmakers on a new bill, SB 1054, that would require drivers be tested for drugs or alcohol if they are involved in an accident with serious injuries.

"It's not going to change our situation, but if we can help someone else, if we can ease their pain just a little bit for what we are going through, that's our ultimate goal,"  Tana has said.

The Smiths are asking people to sign a petition in favor of the bill.

"By signing this petition, you are urging Arizona legislators to pass SB1054 in memory of Joe Smith and all others who have been affected by compromised drivers -- you'll help protect the future victims and families of victims," according to Change.org.

You can sign the petition HERE.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the families of the three other boys injured in the crash.

"Joe's life mattered," his mom told us. "He made a change, and so our motto is "Live like Joe,"  and what we'd like to do is help other families live like Joe and make a change."

PDF: Senate Bill 1054 | Implied consent:

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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