More prison time for hit-and-run drivers passes State Senate

A bill to increase the penalties against hit-and-run drivers who cause serious bodily injury or death sails through the Georgia Senate.

The bill is named for 23-year-old Charlie Jones, or C.J. as his family called him, who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in northeast Cobb County ten years ago. After the driver fled, he was subsequently run over by other vehicles that did stop. His cousin, Marcus Coleman, believes had the first driver stopped, Jones might still be alive.

He and his family have been fighting for justice ever since.

“Our tenacity led us to find out the loopholes and the inconsistencies in the hit-and-run legislation which I understand hasn’t been updated since 1999,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

After C.J.’s Law failed to pass last year, the family worked with Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) to sponsor the bill this legislative session.

“It is totally unacceptable to cause a serious accident, harm somebody and flee and keep going. You have a duty to stop and render aid when you cause an accident that causes serious harm,” she says.

Her bill increases the current penalty of one to five years in prison to one to ten years.

The driver who hit Jones has never been found. His family has returned to the scene every year on the anniversary of the accident in hopes the person will come forward.

“This is not a vengeful type of push for legislation, because again we don’t feel like it would help us. But we feel like it balances the laws as drivers are becoming more and more distracted in today’s era,” says Coleman.

He will continue to fight for the new law as the bill now heads to the House.

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