John Kobelke

John Kobelke

Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Community Safety; Water Resources; Sport and Recreation

    Drivers face tough new hit and run penalties

    14/03/2008 12:00 AM
     

    From midnight tonight, any driver leaving the scene of a serious accident could face up to 20 years jail.

     

    Police Minister John Kobelke announced the start of new laws which aimed to stop hit and run incidents on the State’s roads.

     

    “It is totally inexcusable and reprehensible for any driver not to stop and help someone injured, especially if they have caused the injury,” Mr Kobelke said.

     

    The new laws, dubbed Mike’s Law, follow the tragic loss of 75-year-old Hilton grandfather Michael Witkowski in 2004, who was struck by a car and left for dead while walking his dog.

     

    The offending driver took extreme steps to conceal the crash damage to the vehicle in an apparent endeavour to escape prosecution, and was ultimately convicted of failing to stop and failing to render assistance, but was fined a mere $800.

     

    “It is simply unacceptable that a driver involved in a serious crash leaves a person injured by the roadside in an attempt to alleviate their responsibility,” the Minister said.

     

    “The legislation amends the relevant penalties to act as a strong deterrent to drivers leaving the scene of crashes where death or injury occurs.”

     

    Mr Kobelke thanked Mr Witkowski’s daughter Linda Harris for her determination and strong support for the changes to the law, following the tragic death of her father.

     

    The new maximum penalties for a driver involved in a hit and run incident are:

     

    ·           20 years imprisonment where a person’s death has occurred;

    ·           14 years imprisonment where a person has suffered grievous bodily harm; and

    ·           10 years imprisonment in any other case where a person has sustained bodily injury.

     

    Also, if the driver does not report the accident to police, they could be subject to imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.

     

    Any passengers in a vehicle involved in a hit and run incident may also face prosecution as an accessory to the fact, with a possible maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

     

    The new laws replace the penalty for a motorist involved in a hit and run crash resulting in bodily harm to another person, which was a fine of $2,500 and/or imprisonment for no more than 12 months.

     

    Minister's Office - 9222 9211