O'Neill calls for stiffer penalties for hit-and-run crimes

O'Neill calls for stiffer penalties for hit-and-run crimes

State Sen. Edward J. O'Neill, of District 17 in Lincoln and North Providence, has pre-filed a bill that would create harsher penalties for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. O'Neill says he is more dedicated than ever to protecting victims on the road.

"After gaining the support of my colleagues in the Senate last year, I am hopeful that this issue can come to the forefront in the 2014 session," he said. "Frankly, I don't understand why people aren't more outraged with the number of hit-and-runs we are still seeing in our communities.

"We had an incident as recently as two weeks ago on Front Street in Lincoln, where a young woman was hospitalized after being run over by a motorist," said O'Neill. "If people have the mentality that allows them to drive away from someone who is struggling for his or her life, then we need to take a serious look at the efficacy of this law."

O'Neill said increased penalties should make drivers more accountable for their actions and fearful of the consequences if they drive away. Those found guilty of leaving the scene would face longer jail sentences, huge fines, and in one case, permanent loss of their licenses with the enactment of this legislation.

The bill would not only increase penalties for leaving the scene of accidents involving serious bodily injuries, but would boost penalties for accidents leading to death.

"Last year, the Senate passed this legislation," he added. "This year, I will be reaching out to the Lincoln and North Providence delegations in both the Senate and the House to ask for their support. I hope my colleagues in the two chambers can look at this with a fresh pair of eyes and recognize the good this could do going forward."