New Mexico lawmakers hope to crack down on hit-and-run drivers

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers are coming up with a lot of proposals to crack down on New Mexico’s most dangerous drivers. Now, there’s a plan to go after drivers who try to get away with their crimes.

A legislator from Albuquerque says the law on the books right now isn’t punishing hit-and-run drivers like they should be. Right now in New Mexico, it’s a third degree felony to knowingly leave the scene of an accident in which someone is severely injured or even dies.

Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes wants to up that to a second degree felony, which means up to three years behind bars for hurting someone and up to six years if someone dies. Just damaging a car and deciding to take off would be a felony too.

“Often times it’s not an intentional crime, but they have the decision to make at the point, are they going to do the right thing? Stay at the scene of the crime, fulfill their responsibilities as not only a citizen of the State of New Mexico, but as a citizen of this great country, or are they going to leave?” Rep. Maestas Barnes asked.

Rep. Maestas Barnes says this bill would send a stronger message to those people who choose to run.

It’s a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Maestas Barnes and a Democrat out of Las Cruces, so they are hopeful it will pass.

Drunk drivers who take off from deadly crash scenes would still be looking at vehicular homicide charges, which carry up to 15 years per victim.

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