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Newport Beach Republican Assemblyman Pushes for Tougher Hit and Run Sentencing

8:34 AM PDT on March 13, 2013

Maybe enough is finally enough.

Last September, Dr. Catherine "Kit" Campion (she went privately as Kit Ritz) died following a hit and run crash that knocked her off her bicycle. After an arrest was made, residents of the Orange County beach town were stunned to discover that the maximum sentence the deadly driver could receive, despite being on probation for a break-in, was eight years.

Reacting to this tragedy, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) introduced AB 956 (full text) which would increase the maximum sentence for hit and run offenses another five years. The purpose of the legislation is not just to increase the penalty, but also provide discouragement for deadly or dangerous drivers to leave the scene of a crash.

Under the current law, someone has to be guilty of "grossly negligent conduct" to receive the extra five years. AB 956 makes it so that all hit and run drivers would face a possibly longer sentence. The driver that killed Campion-Ritz

According to Mansoor's office, under AB 956 suspects in vehicular manslaughter cases that don't involve gross negligence ― cases such as the crash that killed Campion-Ritz, would also face those extra five years.

“This important bill will discourage individuals from fleeing the scene after a hit- and-run," Mansoor told Patch. "I understand that accidents can and will occur, but I also believe in providing judges additional discretionary use of sentencing for those who run from the responsibility of remaining at the scene of the crime.”

As Streetsblog noted yesterday when discussing the movement of Mike Gatto's hit and run legislation, "if every bike crash helps lead to better laws, then eventually the city and state might finally treat traffic crime for what it really is…an ongoing community health crisis. "

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