04102019CM1756SPRINGFIELD – Distracted drivers who cause a fatal accident and flee the scene face tougher penalties under legislation by State Senator Rachelle Crowe.

Crowe, a Democrat from Glen Carbon, is pushing to add an aggravating factor to sentencing considerations for those who flee after causing a fatal crash because they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or were distracted by a cell phone or other device.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic that grows statewide every day,” Crowe said. “This reckless behavior will not be tolerated, and those who do commit such a careless act must be punished properly.” 

This measure stems from a 2015 incident in Madison County—in which a man failed to report a fatal crash. Police learned of the crash hours later, and it was established in court the man had been texting while driving.

Current law calls for sentences for failing to report a death to range from probation to four to 15 years in prison at 50-percent of time required to be served. This change in the law would rectify the current law’s opportunity for those charged to not face consequences for their actions.

Senator Crowe and the Madison County’s State’s Attorney’s Office joined forces to craft this legislation to ensure justice for victims and their loved ones.

“This is a matter of life or death, and our office sees the devastation these families experience when justice isn’t served to drivers who refuse to report crashes,” Crystal Uhe, First Assistant State’s Attorney, said. “Adding an aggravated factor to sentencing is a step we hope to discourage this cowardice behavior.”

Aggravating factors can influence a court’s decision to include an imprisoning sentence or increase the chance for a more severe sentence.

Senate Bill 1750 was approved by the Senate Wednesday and will now be considered by the House.

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