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Rempfer hit-and-run bill signed into law

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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.

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