Thanks to a new law enacted Sept. 1, Texas drivers will now face tougher penalties for hit-and-run collisions.
Under the new mandate, failure to stop and render aid is now a second-degree felony instead of third degree. In Austin alone this year, 54 people have been killed in car crashes, and 11 of them were victims of hit-and-runs.
Detective Mike Larosa with the Austin Police Department investigates deadly crashes. He said just recently, a driver slammed into another car after running a red light, killing the other driver. The suspect tried to make a run for it, but an eye witness helped police catch him before he could get too far.
"There are numerous charges he is facing, besides failure to stop and render aid,” Larosa said. “Intoxication manslaughter, because he was intoxicated."
With the new law, failure to stop and render aid and intoxication manslaughter will now carry the same weight in consequences.
"If they don't stop it is still the equivalent to intoxication manslaughter even if they don't get to prove it at the scene,” Angela Tidwell with the MADD Law Enforcement Program said.
“They can still get them with a failure to stop and render aid."
The law came to fruition after the hit-and-run crash that killed Courtney Griffin in May 2011. Gabrielle Nestande struck Griffin with her car after a night of drinking. She was charged with failure to stop and render aid, but was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
Nestande is set to be released from jail on Sept. 20.