Bill would clamp down on hit-and-run drivers' defense

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Trevor Langlois was a 24-year-old Army veteran having trouble with his truck last summer on I-35 near Hinckley when he was struck by a car as he stood by the driver's side door.

The driver was 31-year-old Derek Sanders.

Sanders didn't stick around.

"I think he knew at the time he struck Trevor that he hit a person because he came to a stop and sped away," Langlois' father, Brian, said Wednesday, more than eight months after the crash that ultimately took his son's life.

Sanders pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will spend a year in jail.

But that driving away is what Brian Langlois and some lawmakers are trying to stop from happening again.

"That's my stance on it, our laws are messed up and hopefully the group of legislators we have right now can see that and will correct the issue," Langlois said.

Senate Bill 1246 is working its way around the State Capitol. It would force drivers to stop when they hit something and find out what it is.

Its author, DFL Senator Kevin Dahle, says the point is to get rid of the defense by drivers who hit people or property and say they didn't know they hit a person or property so they didn't stop.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson is not a fan of this bill.

"It's stupid and reactionary," Nelson said Wednesday.

Nelson defended Amy Senser in 2012 when she went to trial for hitting and killing Anousone Phanthavong on an I-94 exit ramp the summer before.

Senser's defense was she did not know she hit him and that she thought she hit a traffic cone in the area that was under construction.

Senser is nearing the end of her prison term for the crash.

This new law, Nelson says, goes too far and will create more harm than good.

"You are simply telling people you need to stop and get out and investigate. So you are creating more hazards," Nelson said.


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