State Senate approves 'C.J.'s Law'

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The Georgia Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday named for a young man killed after a collision with a hit-and-run driver.

C.J.'s Law passed 50-1.  The legislation is named for Charlie E. Jones, 23, known as C.J. to family and friends.

"[I'm] very thankful that my cousin's nickname, the name we used for him most regularly, is attached to this," said Marcus Coleman.  

Jones was walking along Piedmont Road in Cobb County on January 24, 2009, when authorities said a driver hit him and left the scene.  Seriously injured, Jones was lying in the roadway when another car ultimately struck and killed him.  The second driver stayed to report the accident.

"You hit someone, you stop and you call 911, because if that driver had, C.J. may not have died," said State Senator Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, the bill's primary sponsor. 

Currently, the penalty for a driver who hits and injures someone and leaves the scene is one to five years.  Under C.J.'s Law the penalty would increase to up to 10 years.

The bill now needs approval from the House of Representatives before it can go to the governor's desk for his signature.

Investigators have never made an arrest in C.J.'s case.  So, Coleman said he and his family will likely never benefit from this legislation. 

"We don't feel like it would help us, but we feel like it balances the laws as drivers are becoming more and more distracted in today's era," Coleman explained.   

A similar bill passed in the House last year, but failed to get Senate approval before the legislative session adjourned.