Last Update: Thursday, November 28, 2013
|Governor Extends Statute of Limitations for Pursuing Hit-And-Run Offenders|
|Written by San Fernando Valley Sun|
|Thursday, 17 October 2013 01:54|
Assemblyman Mike Gotto
SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill extending the statute of limitations to address hit-and-run offenses in California into law.
Authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), AB 184 provides an additional tool to law-enforcement officers investigating hit-and-run offenses by extending the current three-year statute of limitations for such offenses to six years from the date of the offense.
"AB 184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions," Gatto said.
"Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries. "
The Governor's decision comes after yet another deadly stretch of hit-and-run accidents in California, including victims in Gatto's District.
Two recent hit-and-run accidents in Glendale left a 75-year-old woman, a 59-yearold woman, and a 73-year-old woman in critical condition. Bookending the Glendale incidents were two other fatal hit-and-runs.
A hit-and-run driver in Hollywood killed a 22-year-old woman on Oct. 11. And on Monday, Oct. 14, a hit-and-run left a 48-year-old man dead in Encino.
The hit-and-run epidemic is also spreading to other regions of the state. In the Sacramento region, a 55-year-old motorcyclist was killed on Oct.1 in a hit-and-run in Orangevale. And hit-and-runs in Oakland, Santa Rosa, Redwood City, and Atherton have left two Bay Area residents dead, and several more seriously injured, all since the beginning of October.
In addition to the recent deaths, many older hit-andruns around the state remain unsolved, even after months of investigation.
Damian Kevitt was struck by a mini-van while on his bicycle in February and dragged more than a quarter-mile down the Interstate 5 freeway in Los Angeles. The collision resulted in dozens of broken bones and the amputation of one of Kevitt's legs. The suspect remains at large.
Kevitt recently began learning how to pedal a bicycle with his new prosthetic leg.
"It's hard for us to encourage people to bike and walk, when our streets are treated like the Wild West," said Eric Bruins, Planning & Policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
"The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition commends Assemblyman Gatto for bringing attention to this issue and giving hit-and-run victims hope that their perpetrators might be brought to justice once identified."
Currently, motorists who flee the scene of an accident can simply "run out the clock" and avoid all criminal liability for seriously injuring or even killing another individual in a hit-andrun, Bruins said.
AB 184 provides a significant boost to law enforcement officers investigating hit-andrun offenses. The Legislature has passed similar changes to statutes of limitations for crimes with hard-to-identify perpetrators, like clergy abuse.
"Hit-and-run offenders cannot be allowed to escape their actions without consequence," Gatto said. "And hit-and-run victims deserve justice. I hope this law will help some of them to find it."
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.