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Bill Would Increase Penalties For Hit-and-Run Drivers

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Efforts are underway to stop hit-and-run crashes in Nevada

Traffic fatalities earlier this year were skyrocketing in Las Vegas.

By the first week of February, Las Vegas police counted six pedestrian deaths, up from one during the same time period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, hit-and-run accidents increased in 2014 by 35 percent and led to 23 fatalities.

A series of bills intended to prevent accidents have been introduced into the Legislature this year.

One that remains alive is increasing the maximum penalties for people involved in hit-and-run accidents.

St. Senator Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee that introduced the bill.

He said people often leave the scene of an accident because they are driving under the influence and they know that the penalties are stiffer if they're caught driving drunk.

 He said if the law is changed the punishment would be the same.  

"If you leave the scene, we're going to treat that like a DUI," Hammond said.

That doesn't mean that everyone who leaves the scene of a crash will be automatically charged with driving under the influence, but it will close the loophole for people who try to get away from a DUI charge by waiting the two hours it takes for blood alcohol level tests not to be accurate. 

If passed, people charged with hit and run would also be penalized for each injury or death they cause.  

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St. Senator Scott Hammon, R-Las Vegas

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