Local Politics

Hit-and-Run Victim Pushes for Tougher Law Against Drivers

Posted April 26, 2007 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2007 6:25 p.m. EDT

— A Charlotte man who was left on the side of the road after getting run over on his bike last year is lobbying state lawmakers for stiffer penalties for hit-and-run drivers.

Brian Hanley was struck by two vehicles while riding his bike on a Charlotte street in February 2006. Both drivers fled the scene, leaving Hanley on the side of the road for hours.

Hanley spent weeks in a coma and still suffers from a traumatic brain injury and remains in a wheelchair. His fiancee, Laurie Griffin, assists with his daily care.

"He might not have died that night, but the person he was died that night," Griffin said.

The two drivers who hit Hanley were arrested within weeks, but each spent less than a year each in jail for the hit-and-run.

Under North Carolina law, the maximum prison sentence for someone who leaves the scene of an accident is two-and-a-half years.

So Hanley is pushing lawmakers to increase the penalty to six years in prison.

"I'm really mad. I'm not happy at all," Hanley said.

"To hit someone and leave them there, it's cruel, and they need to be punished," said state Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.

Moore, who is sponsoring House Bill 993, said he hopes a stiffer sentence makes drivers stop and think before they leave the scene of an accident.

In Wake County, there have been 12 hit-and-run accidents inthe last month, including three that caused serious injuries, authorities said.

If enacted, the new law would take effect Dec. 1.