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Suffolk OKs tougher penalties in hit-run cases

Tougher penalties are in store for hit-and-run drivers in Suffolk.

The county legislature Tuesday night passed a proposal by Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) that allows the seizure of vehicles from drivers convicted of leaving the scene of crashes causing serious injury or death. Browning said some who have been drinking flee an accident rather than risk stiffer penalties.

"Let's seize vehicles in the same way we do with DWIs," she said.

District Attorney Thomas Spota and the family of Erika Hughes, 23, who died in 2011 when an unlicensed hit-and-run driver struck her in Mastic, supported the law as they press the state to increase sentences for leaving the scene from 4 to 7 years in cases of injury, and 7 to 15 years in cases of death. Erika's father, Dennis Hughes, called the proposal a first step. "If someone believes they can lose their vehicle, maybe they'll think twice about not stopping," he said.

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