June 18, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Council Supports Stiffer Penalties for Hit-and-Run Collisions

Hit-and-Run
Car crash. (Thinkstock)

In an attempt to curb what is described as an “epidemic” of hit-and-run offenses, a State Assemblyman introduced a bill potentially criminalizing those who collide into a vehicle and drive away without stopping to exchange information.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to support Assembly Bill 1532, which, if approved and signed into law, would mandate any driver committing a hit-and-run offense must forfeit his or her driver’s license for six months.

Councilmen Mike Bonin and Mitch Englander introduced a resolution supporting Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s legislation in January; the bill was introduced on the Assembly floor Jan. 21.

The mandate applies to all hit-and-run offenses, regardless of whether the driver in the other vehicle is injured.

“The number of hit-and-run accidents are increasing in the City and the current penalties are not commensurate with the severity of these incidents,” the resolution by Bonin and Englander stated. “Existing law penalizes a driver involved in a hit-and-run accident either through probation and/or a fine, although law does allow for up to a six month stay in jail, but this is rarely enforced. Driving a vehicle is a serious responsibility and it is imperative that drivers remain at the scene of a crash or face the serious consequence of losing their license.”

According to City Hall’s Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA), this is Gatto’s second attempt to criminalize hit-and-run crashes. Last year, he introduced AB 184 to extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-run drivers, “which the City supported in an effort to help curb the epidemic of hit-and-run offenses in Southern California.”

Also according to the CLA, Gatto stated in his legislation as many as 20,000 hit-and-run collisions are recorded annually by the Los Angeles Police Dept, with about 4,000 of those resulting in death or injury.

Under existing law, a driver who is found to have fled from a hit-and-run crash would be subject to probation and/or a fine. A six-month jail term is also applicable under current law. However, according to the resolution by Bonin and Englander, the jail term is “rarely enforced.”

The council’s March 5 vote was 11-0 with four absences.

Gatto represents the 43rd Assembly District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, and portions of Los Angeles.

Bonin’s eleventh council district includes much of the Westside, including Brentwood, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Palms, and Venice. Englander hails from the council’s twelfth district, which is in the San Fernando Valley.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who also represents a portion of the Westside, voted in favor of the resolution.

This story will be updated when the Assembly Bill comes up for a vote in Sacramento.

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