(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday approved for the second
and third readings a bill to deter hit-and-run drivers, by allowing judges to
impose a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment – double that of the seven
years currently allowed.
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Hit-and-run accidents have become a widespread
epidemic that claim the lives of around 18 Israelis every year, and injure
another 1,000, according to the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving, who have
been active in promoting tougher sentences for hit-and-run drivers.
Zeev Bielski (Kadima), one of the initiators of the bill, dubbed the harsher
sentence “a message to the public that this is the end of hit-and-run
“Seven years in prison is not a deterrent,” added
MKs Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Uri Maklev (United
Torah Judaism) also supported the bill.
“Abandoning the wounded is not a
phenomenon we can live with as a society,” Matalon said.
Attorney Yishai Sharon of the Public Defenders’ Office opposed the stricter
sentence, arguing that convicted hit-and-run drivers should be treated by the
Probation Service instead of punished with lengthy prison terms.
interview with someone injured in a hit and run would be far more beneficial
than a harsher sentence,” said Sharon.
“It’s not logical that the
sentence for manslaughter is nine years and the sentence for a hit and run is 14
Shmuel Abuav, CEO of the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving,
welcomed Tuesday’s decision to advance the bill, and said longer prison
sentences would act as a deterrent to drivers.
“Harsher sentences for
hit-and-run drivers is a welcome step,” Abuav said. “If drivers knew that the
long arm of the law would find them and that by fleeing the scene of an accident
they faced a severe punishment, they would act as they ought, and not abandon