New penalties for hit and run drivers change Thursday - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

New penalties for hit and run drivers change Thursday

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A valley father fights to toughen laws after he lost his son to a hit and run driver.

Thanks to him if you get into a small fender bender, and you leave you'll pay the price.

The father lost his son in a hit and run crash four years ago. He helped get a new law passed two years ago to toughen penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident, but he didn't stop there.

In two days, the law named after his son Joey will get even tougher on hit and run drivers.

"My son, anybody's child, for a hit and run, doesn't deserve to go unjustified, whether the person was drinking or sober, you still have to pay for it," said Jesse Romero.

Jesse Romero's son was only 18 years-old when he was killed by a hit and run driver while walking home from work in Peoria in October of 2010.

Police say that the driver, Laura Flanders, was dazed and on medication when she hit Joey and kept going.

"She only got a slap on the hand for killing my son, six years, and she didn't get nothing as far as her being under the influence," said Romero.

Since then Jesse has fought tirelessly to keep other families from such tragedy, resulting in Joey's Law, signed by Governor Brewer in 2012.

In May, Brewer signed HB2505; it becomes law Thursday. It makes it a felony for a driver who fails to stop after an accident without helping someone who is injured. And if there is suspicion that the driver was under the influence, they can be ordered to substance abuse treatment.

"It's just awareness, to stop and assist, to save a life. But also for these drunk drivers to realize that, "I thought I hit a tree, or a pole" excuse isn't going to work anymore. Because that's been going on for too long," he said.

"I just hope it saves a life, you know it prevents them from killing somebody, or even injuring somebody," said Romero.

Under the new law prosecutors only have to prove a preponderance of the evidence to prove impairment. Things like bar receipts, empty beer cans, witness statements, instead of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

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