Assemblyman Mike GattoSACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, Calif. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) announced his continued his fight for hit-and-run victims in California, yesterday reintroducing legislation to establish the “Yellow Alert” system, a tool which would empower the public to help solve more hit-and-run crimes and help law enforcement agencies apprehend more hit-and-run drivers. The widely praised legislation was vetoed by Governor Brown in September despite bipartisan support from across the state.

Gatto’s legislation, AB 8, would allow law-enforcement agencies to use the existing Emergency Alert System (aka the “Amber Alert” system) to broadcast information about vehicles suspected in hit-and-run incidents and enlist drivers to report those suspects right away. Use of the system would be limited to hit-and-runs that result in death or serious bodily injury. Alerts would issue only when there is a sufficient description of the offending vehicle.

“When Denver, Colorado created a similar alert system in 2012, they saw an incredible 76% arrest rate, without overwhelming their alert system,” said Gatto. “Continuing to allow hit-and-run victims to suffer without hope of solving these crimes is unacceptable, we need to step-up our efforts to catch these criminals and hold them accountable.”

AB 8 comes in the wake of one of the most deadly months for hit-and-run collisions in recent memory. Halloween night saw the deaths of three teenage girls who were trick-or-treating in Santa Ana. Since then victims have included two 3-year olds killed in separate incidents in Porterville and Merced, a 14-year killed in San Leandro, and an 8-year old who miraculously survived being dragged more than 100 feet down the streets of Fresno. The incident with the 8-year old was reminiscent of an incident in Gatto’s district in 2013, when Damian Kevitt survived being dragged nearly a quarter mile down the Interstate 5 freeway. Since then, Gatto has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of hit-and-runs in Los Angeles and across the state and create legislative change to address the epidemic.

In 2013, Gatto authored AB 184, which doubled the statute of limitations to prosecute hit-and-run drivers. In 2014, he authored AB 47 and AB 1532, the latter of which would require mandatory license suspension for anyone convicted of a hit-and-run involving another person. Both bills passed the legislature with overwhelming majorities, each receiving “noe” votes from only four members through the entire legislative process. Despite the bipartisan support and narrowly tailored language of AB 47, Governor Brown vetoed the bill in September, citing fears that the emergency alert system could be overwhelmed. Gatto maintains that meaningful action must be taken to address hit-and-runs.

“The notion that California, the world’s leader in technology and data management, can’t create an alert system to catch the criminals who have killed hundreds of Californians is absurd. Accidents happen, but if you don’t stop, it becomes a crime, and you deserve to be arrested and prosecuted,” said the Assemblyman. “The public and law enforcement can work together to make our roads safe against those who leave their victims to die in the street.”

Mike Gatto represents California’s 43rd Assembly District which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.