The State Assembly unanimously approved legislation aimed at reducing the number of hit and runs statewide. The bill – AB 8 – has been sent to the governor for his signature.
AB 8, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), will establish a “yellow alert” system, allowing law enforcement officials to engage drivers in identifying and apprehending hit-and-run drivers. The bill will permit law-enforcement to utilize the state’s existing network of freeway signs to broadcast information about vehicles suspected in hit-and-run incidents.
Alerts will only be issued by local law enforcement when there is a sufficient description of a vehicle or the identity of the suspect is known. The yellow alert system will also be limited to the geographic area where the hit and run occurred, and will only be implemented when a hit and run results in death or serious bodily injury.
“People flee because they know there’s little chance that they’ll be caught,” Gatto said. “The yellow alert provides another tool for law enforcement to apprehend these criminals and have them brought to justice.”
Gatto said hit-and-run accidents have become such a problem that local officials are taking action. Los Angeles is offering a $50,000 standing reward for information in hit-and-run cases. The Los Angeles Police Department has reported that 80 percent of all hit-and-run crimes went unsolved from 2008 to 2012.
“This bill is just as much about preventing hit and runs as it is about solving them,” Gatto added. “If people know that their information will be broadcast on these signs and there’s a chance they’ll be caught, the likelihood of them fleeing will decrease.”
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