Tougher hit-and-run bill advances in North Carolina

| Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The North Carolina Senate has approved a measure that would change the state’s hit-and-run law.

Senators voted 48-0 June 22 to advance the measure. The bill now heads back to the state’s House for approval of changes before moving to Gov. Mike Easley for his signature.

State law now prohibits the driver of a vehicle in an accident from driving away from the scene until police arrive, the News & Record in Greensboro, NC, reported. But it contains a loophole that allows a passenger to switch seats with the driver and drive away – with little threat of punishment.

HB217, sponsored by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, would outlaw that action.

Under the bill, if the driver or passenger involved in an accident that results in a death or serious injury move the vehicle before an officer authorizes the vehicle to be moved, they could be charged with a felony. If the accident caused significant property damage without serious injury, offenders would face misdemeanor charges.

An exception would be made if someone leaves the scene to seek medical attention or emergency assistance.

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