Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council supports tougher penalties for hit-and-run drivers

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The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to support tougher penalties for drivers who flee the scene of a collision; the council also directed the Los Angeles Police Department to improve the way it tracks hit-and-run crashes. 

The council voted to support AB 184, which would extend the statute of limitations on a hit-and-run crash that results in a fatality or severe injury. It has passed both houses of the legislature and is awaiting the governor's signature.  

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Council members also voted to ask the state legislature to make a hit-and-run conviction the same level as a drunk driving conviction when calculating a penalty.

Some drunk drivers flee the scene of an accident because the penalties for a hit-and-run are less severe than they are for drunk driving, said LAPD Commander Mike Williams. 

The city of Los Angeles has had more than 14,000 hit-and-runs so far this year, according to the LAPD. That's up 3 percent from last year. 

Between 2008 and 2012, 83 percent of hit-and-run accidents involved damage to property, typically a parked car, according to the police. Less than 8 percent of those crashes resulted in injuries, though hit-and-runs led to more fatalities and serious injuries than drunk driving crashes. 

The council directed the LAPD to track how many crash investigations are completed and turned over to the City Attorney's Office or District Attorney. 

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