MKs Want to Throw Book at Hit-and-run Drivers

Knesset committee approves bill that would sentence hit-and-run drivers to up to 14 years in jail.

Hit-and-run drivers could face up to 14 years in jail if the Knesset passes a law approved yesterday by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee ahead of a first reading in the plenum.

Currently, judges are not required to sentence hit-and-run drivers to jail at all, and prison time is capped at seven years. The new proposal mandates a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 14 years, if the victim has sustained serious injuries.

MK David Rotem
Tomer Appelbaum

"Someone who hits another person and doesn't stop is inhuman," Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ) said at the meeting yesterday. "I expect people to be Good Samaritans, to go and get help. Bills that call for harsher sentencing of hit-and-run drivers and their accessories are an important part of the fight against these ugly phenomena."

MK Zeev Bielski (Kadima ), one of the bill's sponsors, said the harsher sentences were aimed at preventing offenders from getting the kind of light sentence received by the drunk driver who ran over 12-year-old Shahar Greenspan in 2009, leaving her completely paralyzed. The driver, Mark Patrick, was sentenced only to a NIS 1,000 fine, community service and revocation of his driver's license.

The bill also calls for passengers in a car involved in a hit-and-run accident to be held criminally accountable for failing to get help. Passengers would get about half the prison time the driver would get in any given instance.

MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu ), the lawmaker behind the passenger clause of the bill, said recent hit-and-run accidents in Israel have shown that "abandonment is abandonment, whether you were behind the wheel or you collaborated with this terrible crime."