Fleeing a fatal accident now a second degree felony in Texas
Drivers in Harris County who flee the scene of an accident are often leaving their victims with property damage and injuries. Some of these car accidents have also resulted in death. New provisions in Texas legislature have recently been signed into law to address the issue of hit-and-run fatalities, and are intended to encourage drivers to remain at the scene of an accident to render aid.
Senate Bill SB 275
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Senate Bill SB 275 will increase the penalty that drivers will face if they do not stop to render aid to the victim and a death results. The harsher penalty may discourage drivers from fleeing the scene. The legislation:
- Became effective September 1, 2013
- Increases penalty from third-degree felony to a second-degree felony
- Establishes a penalty of between two and 20 years in prison
- Includes an optional penalty of up to $10,000
The bill makes the criminality of failing to stay and render aid equal to the criminality of intoxication manslaughter.
Hit-and-run accidents in Harris County
The Houston Chronicle reported in June of 2013, that two men in a stolen SUV, hit and killed a man riding a motorcycle. The SUV had reportedly been car-jacked. The SUV was speeding, and after colliding with the motorcycle, the motorcycle and rider were pushed 50 yards before the rider became dislodged and thrown. When the SUV caught on fire, witnesses say they saw the driver and passenger of the SUV flee the scene on foot. The motorcyclist was taken to a medical center where he died.
In another hit-and-run, the Houston Chronicle reported that a woman who fled the scene of an accident last year, was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for failing to stop and render aid to a motorcycle rider she struck and killed. The woman rear-ended the motorcyclist causing fatal injuries. She ran from the scene and did not offer assistance. The woman was later arrested and charged with a felony accident involving an injury or death. If the new bill had been in place, the woman could have been sentenced to significantly more years in prison.
New law can save lives
Residents of Texas have a harsher law now to discourage hit-and-run accidents. The potential for a life to be saved is greater if faulty drivers are motivated to stay and assist injured victims. Something as simple as Calling 911 for someone who is injured can make all the difference in saving their life.
Anyone who is a victim of a hit-and-run accident should consult with an attorney who is experienced with motor vehicle accidents. A knowledgeable attorney can help victims and victim’s families in seeking compensation for their injuries, property damage, or financial compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one involved in a fatal accident.
Senate bill now effective in Texas aims at reducing hit-and-run accidents by increasing penalties to at fault drivers.