Politics

Bill allowing for hit-and-run alerts on Amber Alert system signed into California law

A state bill will allow law enforcement to activate a
A state bill will allow law enforcement to activate a "yellow alert" and broadcast vehicle information on electronic highway signs in California in search of drivers suspected of hit-and-run collisions.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A bill allowing the Amber Alert system to be used to broadcast alerts about suspected hit-and-run drivers was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill was written by Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale.

"It's a very common sense bill that statistics show would greatly reduce the amount of people who get away with this very terrible crime," Gatto said.

Brown vetoed a similar bill that passed the Assembly last year. Gatto said that he doesn't know why Brown signed the bill this time around, "but we're ecstatic about it."

"This bill will make a very, very meaningful difference, I think, in the number of people who are brought to justice," Gatto said. "And if more people are brought to justice, I think more people will do the decent thing, and that's stop. And realize that if you flee the scene of an accident, it's a crime; if you stop and render aid, then it's just an accident."

When Brown vetoed last year's bill, he said that he was concerned about diluting the power of Amber Alerts with other messages. Gatto said that, given that highway signs are currently used to notify drivers of the state's drought right and to urge them save water, there should  also be room for their use to notify them of hit and runs.

"Hopefully, the governor came to the same conclusion I did, which is that our network is not that burdened right now," Gatto said.

Gatto said that the alerts would only be deployed in the area of a suspected hit-and-run, and that they wouldn't trigger an alert to people's cell phones.