NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new law trying to catch drivers who flee the scene of hit-and-run accidents went into effect in New York City on Saturday.
The system works similar to AMBER Alert, with notices being directly sent to cell phones with a description of who or what to be on the lookout for, including the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle involved.
Under the new law, the alerts would go out to the public within 24 hours of a hit-and-run accident that involves either a fatality or a serious injury.
“This hit-and-run alert system will help the NYPD to get more information and identify the suspects for arrest,” City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said Saturday.
Rodriguez first introduced the bill in February, calling for a hit-and-run alert system that could reach thousands of people in an instant, increasing the odds that a driver who takes off faces justice.
The new system is called the DJ Paul Hit-And-Run Alert System, named for the popular radio DJ John Paul Guerrero who was killed in a hit-and-run crash last year in Brooklyn.
“We’re here just basically asking for justice. Whoever did the hit-and-run, we’re after you, we’re here and we’re not going to rest until we find you,” his family said at the time.
A day after his death, surveillance video of the car involved was released to the media. The suspected driver surrendered to police last month, nearly one year after the crash.
New York City averages one deadly hit-and-run crash a week and roughly 40,000 hit-and-run crashes a year, CBS2’s Jessica Borg reported. Many go unsolved.
New York State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa says she’s advocating for a similar alert system bill on the state level. Some states, such as California and Maryland, already have one in place.
“The time that is spent looking for the car is critical, because in that time these drivers can destroy the evidence. We also know that there’s an incentive for drivers to flee the scene of a crime, because they know they will most likely not be caught,” she said. “The enforcement mechanisms in our state are flawed and allow for these criminal drivers to continue to hurt people in our streets.”
Police will activate the system on a case-by-case basis.