Proposed state law targets hit-and-run drivers

Warning would be similar to Amber Alert

SAN DIEGO - The familiar Amber Alerts driver see on electronic billboards in California could soon display "yellow alerts" to help catch drivers suspected of hit-and-run.

"Roughly three quarters of people who kill somebody in a hit-and-run accident are actually never caught," said Los Angeles-based state Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who proposed two pieces of legislation to combat what he called an epidemic.

The bills would not only create an electronic message on the billboards, which have been instrumental to police during Amber Alerts, but also increase the penalties for hit-and-run drivers.

"You know, I would have had just a minor accident if the driver would have just stopped," said Damian Kevitt, an avid cyclist who was dragged on the hood and underneath the car of a hit-and-run driver in Los Angeles.

Kevitt had to have his right leg amputated.

"He really is the face of a problem I believe is substantial, and unfortunately, I think there are too many others like him who have suffered," Gatto said.

Colorado recently enacted the Medina Alert in that state after Jose Medina was run over and killed.

Apprehension rates in Colorado have gone up 75 percent, according Gatto.

Gatto's legislation passed the state Assembly, and it awaits a decision in the Senate.

The bills could be on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for signing by the end of August.

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