Hit-and-run suspects can no longer run out the clock and hide for three years until California's statute of limitations expires. Under that rule police couldn't arrest them and prosecutors couldn't file charges three years after the collision.

See also: L.A.'s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic.

Over the weekend Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill by L.A. state Assemblyman Mike Gatto that extends the statute to six years. It goes into effect Jan. 1. The law was inspired in part by reporting by LA Weekly documenting Los Angeles' hit-and-run epidemic, including …

… the statistic that nearly half of all collisions in the city involved hit-and-runs.

Gatto's bill, AB 184, was signed by Brown on Saturday. The lawmaker says:

AB 184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions. Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.

Last month the City Council ordered the LAPD to keep better records on hit-and-runs and to put more hit-and-run task forces on the streets.

See also: All Hit-&-Run Suspects Could Have $50,000 Rewards Over Their Heads.

L.A. sees about 20,000 hit-and-runs each year, and there's no sign they're abating. Gatto's office listed these recent deaths and injuries:

Two hit-and-runs in Glendale left a 75-year-old woman, a 59-year-old woman, and a 73-year-old woman in critical condition. Book-ending the Glendale incidents were two fatal hit-and-runs. On Friday, October 4, a 22-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hollywood and on Monday, October 7, a hit-and-run left a 48-year-old man dead in Encino.

Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition:

It's hard for us to encourage people to bike and walk, when our streets are treated like the Wild West. The LA County Bicycle Coalition commends Assemblyman Gatto for bringing attention to this issue and giving hit-and-run victims hope that their perpetrators might be brought to justice once identified.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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