Bill toughens penalties for hit and runs

PROVIDENCE, RI – Some state senators are proposing sharply increased penalties for hit and run drivers. The legislation was prompted by the near death back in 2010 of Providence city councilman Terrence Hassett.

Penalties for most hit and run crashes would double under the proposed legislation. First time violators would face a penalty of up to ten years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a five-year license revocation. Bill sponsor Senator Edward O'Neill of Lincoln says current penalties are far too lax to be a deterrent.

"We have a rash of these hit and run accidents occurring all over RI and we've got to stop it," says O'Neill. "So one of the ways we think we can at least slow it down is to make these penalties so harsh and severe that people are going to really hopefully think twice and stop and render aid."

The bill was announced on Atwells Avenue, where Providence city councilman Terrence Hassett was nearly killed in a hit and run 18 months ago.

"You don't just hit someone and take off and I think this legislation is going to improve the enforcement of this," says Hassett.

Hassett, who has fully recovered, says he will testify in favor of the bill.

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