Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Saturday a bill that addresses the high number of hit-and-run offenses in California.
The legislation, AB 184, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), extends the current three-year statute of limitations for hit-and-run offenses to six years from the date of the incident.
“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 in a statement. “Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.”
Brown’s decision comes just days after four women were injured in three hit-and-run collisions in Gatto’s district, which includes Glendale and Burbank.
In a hit-and-run collision on Oct. 2 in Glendale, a 75-year-old woman was struck as she got out of her parked car on Western Avenue. Her condition in the hospital was improving as of Tuesday.
In another collision the next day, two women, ages 69 and 74, were struck in a crosswalk at Central and California avenues in Glendale and were both initially in critical condition. The 74-year-old woman died from her injuries, while the 69-year-old woman was eventually released from the hospital.
Then, on Oct. 4, a 22-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hollywood, which is also in Gatto’s district.
Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said hit-and-runs make it difficult for his organization to achieve its main goal.
“It’s hard for us to encourage people to bike and walk when our streets are treated like the Wild West,” he said.
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.