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New law institutes harsher penalty for leaving scenes of accidents

The governor has signed legislation into law that mandates the suspension of an operator’s license in the instance that the driver is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily harm to an individual.

Sponsored by Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) and Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), the legislation (2012-S 2139A, 2012-H 7467A) changes discretionary license suspension to mandatory license suspension under those circumstances, mirroring mandatory license suspension in leaving the scene resulting in mere injury and leaving the scene resulting in death. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin backed the legislation.

Rhode Island statistics show that in 2011, there were approximately 20 serious hit-and-run accidents where the driver left the scene, including at least three deaths.

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