Lawmakers push for harsher penalties in hit and run cases

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Two bills in Albany aim to limit hit and runs by harsher penalties for drivers.

Senator Patrick Gallivan is sponsoring both.

“I think it’s very simple. The laws that are in place incentivize someone to leave the scene because the penalty if they get caught after the fact is not as severe as if they are charged at the scene,” Gallivan said.

Alix’s Law would make it illegal to leave the scene of a crash while drunk.

Current state vehicle and traffic law only requires drivers to report an accident when they know or have reason to know they damaged property, or if they know they hit and injured a person.

Alix Rice was on her long-board in Amherst in 2011 when she was struck and killed by Dr. James Corasanti, who was drunk at the time.

Corasanti was acquitted of the most serious criminal charges in Rice’s death. He was convicted of a Misdemeanor DWI.

Former Acting Erie County DA Michael Flaherty told News 4 the hole in the system causes a headache for prosecutors.

“We’ve been dealing with that loop hole for years and so what we’ve been forced to do is find evidence that would demonstrate that anybody in that driver’s position must have known that it was a person.”

Alix’s Law has passed in the Senate six times, but continually stops in the Assembly.

Another measure, the Hit and Run Prevention Act, would boost the penalty for leaving the scene of an incident, almost doubling the possible jail time, from seven years up 15.

“You’re not being penalized for causing the injury, you’re being penalized for leaving the injury, which are two different things,” explained Flaherty.

The Hit and Run Prevention Act would also create a state hit and run alert system, similar to an Amber Alert.

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