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Stricter hit-and-run penalties to add more jail time

Updated: Wednesday, September 4 2013, 12:39 PM MDT

By: Ruben Veloz

El PASO, Texas -- Starting in September, the state of Texas will soon increase the punishment for people involved in a hit-and-run.

The Texas Legislature passed the law in order to close a loophole that's allowed drunk drivers to flee the scene of accidents.

It's a story west El Pasoan Sarah Bolanos said she hears about too many times.

"A lot of people do get away with things and it feels like the pedestrian hit-and-run incidences are increasing," said Bolanos.

Under the new law, people convicted of a deadly hit-and-run will face a second-degree felony and up to 20 years in jail.

It would make a hit-and-run the same as intoxicated manslaughter.

State senators say alcohol is often a factor in hit-and-run crashes, allowing drivers to get away with DWIs.

West El Pasoan Kevin Austin is glad that loophole is being closed.

"You are driving something that you are supposed to be under control with, paying attention, doing what you are supposed to do, and if you are not doing that and you are running someone over or hitting someone that is something that is really serious," said Austin.

The law would also make failing to stop and help someone at the scene of an accident more punishable.

Drivers could also get up to 10 years in jail. Bolanos does think the new law is strict, but supports the state's decision.

"I feel like there is a lot of community concern in other regions but not here," said Bolanos.

The law goes into effect Sept. 1.

Stricter hit-and-run penalties to add more jail time

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