SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State lawmakers Monday showed an overwhelming amount of support for a law that will increase the punishment for deadly hit-and-run crashes.
Lawmakers approved Gavin’s Law with a 66-3 vote.
“AB 582 will, hopefully, encourage drivers to stay at the scene of the crime,” said Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella.
The bill boosts the maximum prison sentence for hit-and-run drivers from four years to six.
Lawmakers said it brings the penalty more in line with vehicular manslaughter and makes the punishment greater than that of a DUI offense resulting in death.
“Hit, leave, run, and you can avoid some serious time. This bill closes that loophole. You will do some serious time,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
The law is named after Gavin Gladding, a Clovis educator killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2018.
His wife, Susan Gladding, has been a part of each step of the proposal’s process in Sacramento.
“We felt pretty good about today, but now having finished this piece of it, it’s fantastic. It’s great,” said Gladding.
The bill now heads to the Senate where it will have to clear two committees before it reaches its final floor vote.
“We may have some serious uphill climbs, as we did originally in the assembly. I think there’s momentum here and an understanding, not only from members, but I think an increasing understanding from the leadership of both houses that this is a loophole that can, should and ought to be closed,” said Patterson.
Gavin’s Law is not yet scheduled for its next hearing.
Ashley Zavala filed this report.