SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A bill introduced at the Utah State Capitol is making it easier for law enforcement to prosecute Utah bars and servers that overserve alcohol.

The bill is inspired by the death of Eli Mitchell, 13, of West Jordan, who was hit and killed last year by a drunk driver while he was riding his bike in a crosswalk. Eli Mitchell’s family hopes this new bill could save lives. 

“When these things happen, if change doesn’t occur, and it happens again to somebody else, then there’s way more emotion that occurs going, ‘This maybe could have been prevented for somebody else,’” said Jeremy Mitchell, Eli Mitchell’s father.

The hearing for HB 247, sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan), was an emotional one.

The bill looks to add clarification and updates to the Alcohol Beverage Control Act. If passed, the bill requires establishments to keep video records and see that they are not destroyed once an investigation is started.

Last April, Eli Mitchell was riding his bike back home from the grocery store when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. 

“He drank seven 20-ounce beers over a period of five to six hours, and his blood alcohol content was determined to be over 4x the legal limit​,” said Glendon Mitchell, Eli Mitchell’s grandfather.

Ivory said these are key changes that will help with prosecution.

“When people were hurt or law enforcement was trying to prove that, the bar was so high and the definition was so unclear,” he said. “The other aspect was the records… the record retention requirements were not clear.”

“This is really targeted at the bad actors, not the overwhelming good players, responsible players in society,” Ivory added. “We want to thank them for their help and additions and comments to make this a better bill.”

The Mitchell family said they’re hoping this will help prevent other families from experiencing the same pain they have.

“I am grateful that even though Eli is not here on earth with us anymore that he can still be making a difference,” said Lisa Mitchell, Eli Mitchell’s mother.

The McMillian family was also in the hearing in support of the bill. Their 27-year-old son was hit and killed in 2015 by a drunk wrong-way driver on I-15.

“I received a phone call no parent would ever want. It was 12:30 at night, and my family and I were told to get to the hospital as soon as possible. When we arrived, I found my beautiful son Michael so broken, so hurt,” said Jan McMillian.

She said that charges were filed against the server, but he left the state before being prosecuted. Chargers were also filed against the bar the driver had been drinking at.

“We were all hoping the case would move forward and there would be justice and people would be held accountable,” Jan McMillian said. “However, as time went by, we heard nothing, so we contacted the prosecutor’s office and were told the case was dismissed, thrown out of court because the laws were written too vaguely. There was nothing they could do.”

The bill passed out of the House Committee unanimously on Friday and will make its way to the floor.