Under the legislation, law enforcement officers are given more powers and extra tools to crack down on hit-and-run offenses. The statute of limitations for such offenses has been extended to three years from the date of the hit and run offense, or one year after officers identify a suspect, whichever is later.
Under the current law, motorists who have struck a pedestrian or bicyclist and simply fled the scene of the accident are home safe as long as they manage to avoid the statute of limitations. Not only that, the person could actually be free of all criminal liability, even if he is involved in another fatal or injurious hit-and-run accident. This bill however provides police officers a much wider time frame in which they can investigate these crimes, arrest suspects and initiate prosecution.
The Southern California region and Los Angeles in particular has a serious problem with hit-and-run accidents. In fact, Assemblyman Mike Gatto happens to be the representative of a region that has seen a number of such hit-and-run accidents recently. In fact, just one month after the bill was introduced a bicyclist was hit by a minivan, and seriously injured in the Assemblyman’s district. The bicyclist was dragged more than a quarter mile down the highway, resulting in serious leg injuries. Ultimately, his leg had to be amputated because of the injuries. The hit-and-run offender continues to be out there, posing a serious threat to bicyclist safety.