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New Law Comes Down Hard On Hit-And-Run Drivers

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — The state of North Carolina is trying to have more impact on hit-and-run accidents.

Starting Monday, anyone convicted of leaving the scene of an accident could lose his or her license for two years.

Past hit-and-run victims and their families hope the new law makes a difference.

A hit-and-run driver, in a split second, changed Jim Avery's world. Avery's wife, Jennifer, was walking along a road with her stepdaughter when a car came along, crossed the center line and struck Jennifer from behind.

The stepdaughter was not hurt. But the vehicle sent Jennifer -- who was six months pregnant -- flying off the road. She survived, but lost her baby.

Jim Avery said Jennifer never knew what hit her.

"When I got there, she was lying right beside the road," he said. "Her shoe was thrown way off. The first thing was just to keep her calm and relaxed until the ambulance got there. That was hard to do."

Investigators are still looking for the suspect in that hit-and-run. Anyone with information about the Aug. 14 incident is asked to call the Highway Patrol.

WRAL asked Jim Avery if the new, tougher hit-and-run law would be a deterrent.

"I think it will probably happen no matter what the law is," he said.

It is hard to disagree when other incidents are considered, like the hit-and-run along I-40 that killed University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sports broadcaster Stephen Gates.

But, now, it's the law: you can lose your license for two years for a hit-and-run. Jim Avery hopes some drivers' actions change along with the law.

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