Assembly passes bill to bring hit-and-run offenders to justice

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s bill to address the epidemic of hit-and-run offenses is now in the Senate after passing the Assembly with a unanimous vote of 74-0. The legislation, AB 184, provides an additional tool to law enforcement officers investigating hit-and-run offenses by extending the statute of limitations for such offenses to three years from the date of the offense, or one year after a possible suspect is identified by law enforcement, whichever is later.

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-and-run.  Tragically, perpetrators can be hard to identify when the victims are killed. AB 184 helps by extending the statute of limitations for such offenses to three years from the date of the offense, or one year after a possible suspect is identified by law enforcement, whichever is later.  The Legislature has passed similar changes to statutes of limitation for crimes with hard-to-identify perpetrators, like clergy abuse.

“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 LA 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.”

“Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually,” said Gatto.  “Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.  AB 184 will allow victims and law enforcement to obtain justice from people who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions.”