FRESNO, Calif. — A proposed bill to increase penalties for hit and run drivers is about to go through the hearing process.
“If you split and run and we catch you you are going to spend more time in jail,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson is leading the bipartisan coalition of Central Valley lawmakers as well as Gavin Gladding’s family to introduce “Gavin’s Law.” It is in honor of the beloved Clovis Vice Principal Gavin Gladding.
He was killed in a hit and run in September. The driver, 18 year old Rogelio Alvarez left the scene while Gladding was fighting for his life on the side of the road.
While Gladding’s family believes Alvarez was under the influence at the time of the crash it can not be proven.
As a result, Alvarez was exposed to a short prison term of a few months. This is something Gavin’s law would change.
“What we are trying to do here is send a real clear message if you hit or hurt, kill and run you are going to pay a substantially high penalty in prison time then you would have otherwise,” said Jim Patterson.
Police said hit and run drivers often flee to avoid DUI charges. Under California law the maximum punishment for a hit and run causing serious injuries or death is 4 years in jail. A DUI charge would add additional time.
“What we think we should do is make this a deterrence,” said Jacob A. Gelegan, Gavin’s Friend.
Jacob Gelegan is a defense attorney and was a close friends of Gavin’s. He has been a part of creating this law to honor his friend by helping save other lives.
“If I could use my legal knowledge to help him out and try to change the law and make a difference in his name, God Willing I will,” said Gelegan.
The law was introduced about a month ag and is about to start the hearing process.