Pricey Harrison

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hit and Run Loophole To Be Fixed Soon

The Senate gave final approval to legislation which closes a loophole in our state's hit-and-run law, so that a motorist cannot change places with a passenger to avoid a conviction. House Bill 217, which I introduced in February, states that a driver would be convicted of a crime if after an accident the motorist allows or agrees to let the car be moved from the scene without an officer's permission. The measure, which includes some exceptions, was amended Wednesday to add similar restrictions to passengers in the vehicle. I introduced the legislation because of the tragic death of Tar Heel Sports Network commentator Stephen Gates in 2003. He was struck and killed by a passing car on an interstate ramp while he examined a flat tire.

Stephen's parents, George and Pat Gates, worked tirelessly during the trial of the defendants last year and since the legislation was introduced to ensure that those responsible for such accidents are held accountable. Sen. Kay Hagan did an outstanding job handling the bill in the Senate, where it was amended to clarify the responsibilities of passengers, and will now return to the House for concurrence before it can go to the Governor for his signature into law.

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