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Archive for Friday, January 28, 2011

Families of victims ask for tougher hit-and-run penalties in Kansas

Ryan Crum of Lawrence, whose father Thomas Crum, was killed in a 2008 hit and run accident, explains why he supports a measure that would increase the penalties for those who flee the scene of an accident. Crum and other family members of fatal hit and run accidents in Lawrence testified to a House committee.

January 28, 2011

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On the street

What should the penalty be for drivers who leave the scene of an injury accident?

In general there should probably be a penalty that would involve some period of incarceration.

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— Family members of hit-and-run victims in Lawrence on Thursday urged legislators to increase penalties against drivers who flee the scene of an accident.

Ryan Crum, whose father, Thomas Crum, was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2008, said, “There are unfortunately people in this world who can live with leaving someone on the side of the road to suffer and to ultimately die.”

Jeffrey Stolz, whose sister-in-law Rachel Leek was hit and killed in 2009 while riding her bike, said, “Unfortunately, it is becoming common knowledge in Kansas that fleeing the scene prevents law enforcement from acquiring the necessary evidence required to prove intoxication as the cause of the accident.”

And Michael Kanost, whose son Ryan Kanost was killed in 2006 while a student at Kansas University, said the current laws “provide an incentive (for) drunk drivers to leave the scene of an accident.”

Their testimony, and that of law officials, including Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson, was in support of House Bill 2044, which increases the penalties for drivers who flee accidents in which serious injury or death occurs.

The measure is before the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. Chairwoman Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, said the committee will “work on this bill in an expeditious manner.”

In the case of serious injury, the punishment for an offender with no criminal history would increase from the current range of five to seven months in prison to seven to nine months. Most would be sentenced to probation.

In the case of a fatal accident, the punishment for an offender with no previous criminal history would increase from five to seven months to 31 to 34 months, and most would face prison time.

Branson said that often drivers who are driving under the influence leave the scene of an accident in order to allow drugs or alcohol to dissipate from their system, making it impossible to prosecute for driving under the influence.

Sarah Fertig, executive director of the Kansas Sentencing Commission, said that if enacted, the tougher penalties would probably result in four more people going to prison in the next fiscal year.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said, “There is a deficiency in Kansas law here. Right now in Kansas, a drunk driver can operate a vehicle, kill an individual through reckless driving, flee the scene of an accident and not do one single day of prison time.”

Committee member Robert Brookens, R-Marion, questioned whether the bill would cause more people to stay at the scene of an accident.

“Do you truly think we will encourage more people to stop than are currently, or is this a punishment bill?” Brookens asked.

And others questioned whether the state would be imprisoning some people, such as young drivers, simply because they panicked and fled.

Karen Wittman, an assistant attorney general, said the bill would give courts wide discretion in whether to send someone to prison.

Comments

Stacy Napier 3 years, 2 months ago

vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor in Kansas. Doesn't mean anything. Drunk driving doesn't mean anything in this state either. Third offense will get you a couple of weekends in jail. Wow.

consumer1 is spot on. nothing will change. It is already a serious person felony to leave the scene. Now if Branson would actually charge it and the lame juries here would convict it all the victims cited here would have gotten some justice. Instead we let the drivers off with second DUI's and some traffic infractions.

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Beth Ennis 3 years, 2 months ago

I say give them the same penalty as a drunk can get. Vehicular manslaughter. That will get people to stay.

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gr 3 years, 2 months ago

"a drunk driver can operate a vehicle, kill an individual through reckless driving, flee the scene of an accident and not do one single day of prison time.”

I'm surprised drunk people could think through all that.

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macon47 3 years, 2 months ago

we dont need no stinkin laws just hire an attorney, pay him the big bucks and you can go free , no sweat

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consumer1 3 years, 2 months ago

"Karen Wittman, an assistant attorney general, said the bill would give courts wide discretion in whether to send someone to prison."

So really nothing would change.

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Kontum1972 3 years, 2 months ago

i have it done too me in 2003 on kasold next to hy vee....6 broken ribs, punctured lung, broken collar bone....kids in vehicle ran me off the road, i hit the curb flew in the air and landed on the shoulder of the street...was lucky a vehicle didnt run over me...real happy i had a helmet on....obtw i havent been the same health wise since then. I do not ride bicycles anymore.

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verity 3 years, 2 months ago

"The proposed bill comes up short. . . ."

I agree. When a person is killed by a driver, drunk or not, that person is just as dead as if you put a bullet in his/her heart. When negligence is involved and the fault lies with the driver, I think penalties should be much stiffer, whether the driver is high or not, and leaving the scene should carry exceedingly stiff penalties.

I know somebody who has at least 4 DUIs and has spent no time in jail except maybe right after being stopped. And I know that person has been out on the road driving drunk for years. I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who drinks or gets high and drives. It is absolutely not necessary.

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macon47 3 years, 2 months ago

the monied folks always win wih this type of accident

remember the drug dealer that was out running the cops a few years ago, and killed a lady on 31st street? what did he get 3 years?

of course if you are a ku student you automatically get a weekend in jail for a leaving the scene

since drugs and drinking are so much the style in lawrence, i expect this bill we be exemepted from lawrence

life is of lilttle value in douglas county if you are a doper drugs are cool.

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NewbieGardener 3 years, 2 months ago

The proposed bill comes up short, however anything that imposes tougher penalties for those who cut and run are welcome. It's inexcusable to hit someone and flee the scene...driving is a privilege and it should be treated that way.

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50YearResident 3 years, 2 months ago

We brought this on ourselves a long time ago when we decided to allow all violaters under the age of 18 a free pass for crimes they committed before being old enough to accept responsibility for their own actions, Ignorance is bliss for 18 and under age kids, The first step to curb these sort of problems is to repal the "Free Pass" age limit.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

Pull the drivers license,auto tags,contact their insurance provider and suspend driving privileges for one year..... the first time. And a stiff fine $2500. If the person violates any of this 14 days in the clinker.

The second time all of the above plus Friday,Saturday and Sunday sweeping downtown sidewalks from 7AM - 7PM. And the violator must pay for all meals plus the cost of the law enforcement officer that will be monitoring this activity. Stiff fine $5,000. If the violator fails to report or violates any part of the sentence =14 days in the cell.

Put some teeth in it.....

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Carol Bowen 3 years, 2 months ago

"TOPEKA — Family members of hit-and-run victims in Lawrence on Thursday urged legislators to increase penalties against drivers who flee the scene of an accident."

Am reading this correctly? The problem is in Lawrence? With or without the proposed legislation, it looks like we need more law enforcement.

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