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Hit-and-Run Bill Picks Up Support from Santa Monica

hit-and-run
A state bill adding another layer of penalties for hit-and-run collisions was supported by the Santa Monica City Council. (Thinkstock)

A hit-and-run might be a perfectly strategic and timely play in baseball. Yet, when it comes to automobiles, hit-and-runs are not only a major negative but, apparently in California, a serious enough issue where Sacramento has to intervene. In the Assembly, state legislators are deliberating over a bill that would penalize someone at-fault in a non-injury hit-and-run situation. The Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted on June 24 to support that bill.

Assembly Bill 1532 (AB 1532) would create a penalty for a driver who strikes a person and flees the scene without stopping, even if the person struck is not injured.

Under the proposed bill, a driver who is caught and found guilty of a non-injury hit-and-run case would lose his or her license for six months and have a misdemeanor on their respective record.

According to City staff, AB 1532 aims “to decrease the number of hit-and-run incidents … and require at minimum that drivers stop and assess the damages.”

Under current California law, a person responsible for hit-and-run would be held liable in one of three instances: when the hit-and-run results in injury, property damage, or death.

AB 1532 would generally be relevant when a driver flees the scene after striking a passenger or bicyclist but does not injure them.

“The … author [of] AB 1532 clearly sends the message that a driver should always stop upon striking another person with a vehicle,” City staff stated in its report to council members. “The Bill’s authors seek to decrease the number of hit-and-run incidents through legislation, requiring at a minimum that drivers stop and assess the damages, and cites a high number of hit-and-run incidents recently reported in the City of Los Angeles.”

Assemblyman Michael Gatto introduced the bill in Sacramento; Assemblyman Richard Bloom was one of the co-authors. The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have also voted to support AB 1532.

The bill arrived in the State Senate in May after earning enough votes in the Assembly. Earlier this week, AB 1532 was in the State Senate’s transportation and housing committee, where all 11 members voted to advance the bill to the appropriations committee.

State Senators will soon vote on AB 1532 before sending it back to the committee process. Afterwards, a second vote on the State Senate floor will take place. If the bill survives the three remaining hurdles, it would officially be adopted by the legislature and head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature.

Council members approved its support of AB 1532 as part of its Consent Calendar on June 24. All seven council members were present for the vote; Council member Gleam Davis attended the meeting via telephone.

Follow Parimal M. Rohit on Twitter: @ParimalRohit

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