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Rempfer hit-and-run bill signed into law
A measure to crack down on hit-and-run drivers who kill was
signed into law today. Drivers who flee the scene of an accident that results
in someone's death will now face up to a 12-year jail sentence and up to
a $20,000 fine, depending on prior criminal history. The minimum
jail sentence is 21 months under the new law.
Under prior law, a hit-and-run that resulted in a death was treated
the same as one resulting in any bodily injury. Such an offense was a Class
C felony, and many offenders received no jail time.
The offense is now a Class B felony, thanks to the legislation's
sponsor, Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish. "Raising this to a Class B felony
will address this deplorable act with significant penalties, bringing us a
little closer to justice," Rossi said.
Rossi crafted the legislation as a result of the Nov. 7, 1998
hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Dane Rempfer. Rempfer was struck while walking
on a road in North Bend, and the driver fled the scene. The driver
subsequently served a six-month jail sentence.
Jerry and Charlotte Rempfer, Dane Rempfer's parents, along with
their daughter, Kate, joined Sen. Rossi at the governor's bill-signing ceremony.
"I don't know that this brings closure to the grief and loss suffered
by the Rempfer family, but I can say that their commitment to this issue is a
tribute to their son's life. If the added deterrent to this crime keeps one
would-be drunk driver from taking to the road, or encourages one person to
stay and render aid after an accident, it will be well worth their efforts," Rossi said.