New law will strengthen penalties for drivers who flee fatal crashes
On Oct. 10, 2017, Tresor Shema pleaded guilty to his charge of failing to remain at the scene of an accident and obstruction of justice. His other charges were dismissed. Shema was sentenced to 5 years of jail, 1 year of home detention, 2 years of probation and 10 years of license suspension.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law that will strengthen penalties for drivers accused in fatal hit-and-run crashes.
So far this year, there have been at least five fatal hit-and-run crashes in Indianapolis. This weekend, a 22-year-old woman was killed when the driver of another car hit the car she was in. That driver, Tresor Shema, faces a charge of failing to stop at an accident involving death, a level 5 felony.
The new law will create stronger penalties for a driver who hits and kills multiple people at once and leaves the scene of the crash. The law previously contained the same penalty for one crash, even if more than one person was seriously injured or killed. The penalties increase that felony charge if you also are drunk.
Chris Daniels is the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor for the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council. He said new laws in 2014 strengthened penalties to a level 5 felony for a hit-and-run accident killing someone, where previously the convictions were considered much more lenient.
“Up until the past few years, there has always been a narrative that leaving the scene is probably a lesser crime than the crime you would get arrested for if you stayed,” Daniels said.
Daniels is hoping the new law works in conjunction with the laws changed in 2014 to detour people from leaving the scene of a crash.
“When somebody is hurt or killed, that person needs medical attention and you need to stay and for someone who’s drunk and says ‘I’m going to make the selfish decision and I’m going to flee and I won’t get in trouble’, just know that law enforcement is going to find you and you’re going to be facing a much more significant penalty,” Daniels said.
The new law goes into effect on July 1.