Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed into law SB 2185, known as Conor’s Law, legislation that increases public safety by requiring law enforcement to develop policies regarding the response and care for intoxicated young people after an arrest, including attempts to contact a responsible adult. This will ensure the safety of impaired underage individuals by preventing them from harming themselves or others.
“Following an arrest, it is critical that we protect impaired young people while they are still at risk for dangerous decision-making,” said Gov. Rauner. “Ensuring law enforcement has thoughtful policies related to the care of individuals under the influence that focus on reaching out to responsible adults will help prevent tragic situations and protect all Illinoisans.”
The legislation is named after Conor Vesper, a 20-year old college student from Macoupin County who committed suicide hours after a drunk driving arrest. Vesper was the valedictorian of Staunton High School and an active campus leader at Blackburn College where he had earned a full ride scholarship. Vesper was released after posting bail following the DUI arrest. Tragically, he proceeded to drive home and take his own life. Blackburn College will memorialize Vesper with an honorary degree at Spring 2018 graduation.
By properly training law enforcement on the appropriate responses to those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, SB 2185 will also increase the safety of the surrounding community. This law will help decrease impaired young people’s opportunity for self-harm, suicide, or the endangerment of others.
“The passage and signing of Conor’s Law has been a long and emotionally painful journey. We as a family, community and state are grateful for the passage of Conor’s Law,” the Vesper family said. “It is our hope in the State of Illinois having this law in place to provide guidelines will protect and direct law enforcement in cases involving underage drinkers. We want to keep young people, communities and law enforcement officers safe.”
“Conor’s Law will mean that the way law enforcement releases minors will be uniform throughout the state,” said Rep. Bourne (R-Litchfield). “This change in current law will hopefully ensure that this situation never occurs again. I thank the family who brought the idea forward. Their hard work and dedication to bring change from tragedy will ensure that Conor’s life will continue to impact people’s lives in a positive way in the future.”
“I appreciate that Gov. Rauner saw the merit of this bipartisan legislation and chose to make it the law in Illinois,” Sen. Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “Well over a year of work went into Conor’s Law and my only hope is that it prevents other families from experiencing the same heartbreak and anguish the Vespers experienced when they tragically lost their son, Conor. The Vesper family should be commended for their determination.”