Under current California Law, a person can be charged with up to four years in jail if they flee a scene of a crash with someone seriously injured.
First proposed in February 2019 by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, bill AB-582 requests that the punishment for hit-and-run cases be increased by a number of years. If the hit-and-run crash results in permanent or serious injury, it would be punishable with a maximum of six years in prison and a specified fine. If the crash results in a death, the maximum would increase to 8 years in jail in addition to the fine.
AB-582 is also referred to as Gavin’s Law, named after Clovis Unified School District vice principal Gavin Gladding, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident while he was out for a morning run.
The driver in Gladding’s case fled the scene but turned himself in a few days later. He pleaded no contest to hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Many believe that the driver may have been driving under the influence, but due to his fleeing the scene, there is no evidence to support that thought. By fleeing, the driver was able to keep himself from being charged with DUI and was essentially able to lessen his sentence. This is the loophole that supporters hope to try and fix.
The Assembly Public Safety Committee unanimously passed the bill Tuesday, January 14, 2020. The bill still has a ways to go, as it must also go through the appropriations committee. Even then, supporters are optimistic.