Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Alert Law to Catch Hit-And-Run Drivers

Medina Alert Signing
Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the Medina Alert into law on Tuesday March, 25 2014. (Adrian D. Garcia, I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a law Tuesday morning that is designed to help Colorado law enforcement track down hit-and-run drivers.

The Medina Alert law, named after 2011 hit-and-run victim Jose Medina, creates a statewide notification system similar to the one used for child abduction Amber Alerts.

The law makes it possible for police statewide to ask the public's help via television, radio, billboards and text messaging in locating a driver that fled the scene of a hit-and-run crime that led to death or serious injury.

This law will help curb the idea that people can hit someone, leave and get away with it, Hickenlooper said

Jose Medina was killed at age 21 after a hit-and-run driver struck him during his first day as a Denver parking valet. His mother Linda Limon Medina joined Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey and former Denver police officer Larry Stevenson for the bill signing.

Stevenson created the Medina Alerts for use in Denver in 2011. He has already trained hundreds of taxicab, bus and residential drivers to be on the look for cars and people that are involved in hit-and-run accidents.

"Hit-and-runs are the most unsolved crime law enforcement officers see," Stevenson said in a phone call before the signing. "This was a way of doing what was responsible.”

The new law addresses what is being called the hit-and-run epidemic in Colorado. An on-going I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS/9News investigation has found that hit-and-run fatalities are rising within the state, even as overall traffic deaths decrease.

Almost three times a month, someone is killed in Colorado by a motorist who flees the scene, according to the investigation.

The Medina Alert means that witnesses will be available to help track down a driver who flees after injuring or killing someone, Stevenson said. A taxi driver followed the car that struck Medina, wrote down the license plate numbers and contacted police.

The law will be implemented in Colorado next year.

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