Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Saturday a bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) to address the high number of hit-and-run offenses in California.
The legislation, 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 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 yet another deadly week of hit-and-runs in California, including four hit-and-run victims in Gatto’s district, which includes Glendale and Burbank.
Two recent hit-and-runs in Glendale left a 75-year-old woman, a 59-year-old woman, and a 73-year-old woman in critical condition.
Bookending the Glendale incidents were two fatal hit-and-runs. On Oct. 4, a 22-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hollywood and on Oct. 7, a hit-and-run collision left a 48-year-old man dead in Encino.
In addition to the recent deaths, many older hit-and-runs 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 Golden State (5) Freeway in Los Angeles. The collision resulted in dozens of broken bones and the amputation of one of Kevitt’s legs. Kevitt recently began learning how to pedal a bicycle with his new prosthetic leg, while the suspect who hit him remains at large.
“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 and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “The (coalition) L 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.”
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.
-- Mark Kellam, email@example.com
Follow on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam