Bill would force drivers to stop for any collision, end 'didn't know' defense

A bill headed to the Minnesota House floor would require drivers involved in collisions to stop to see if they hit a person or vehicle.

Supporters of the bill say it would close a loophole in current law that lets people avoid liability by saying they didn't stop because they didn't know they hit something.

In 2010, the state Supreme Court overturned the hit-and-run conviction of a man who struck and killed Kane Thomson in 2007 while Thomson changed a tire by the side of a road. Thomson's sister Kris Zell testified in support of the bill before the House public safety committee.

"The Supreme Court reversal has basically paved the way for drivers to claim ignorance as to what was hit. We've seen it used already as a defense in several cases," Zell said. "It encourages drunk and other impaired drivers to flee the scene instead of offering life saving assistance."

The Supreme Court decision was cited in the hit-and-run conviction of Amy Senser. It was used by her defense attorney to support her claim that she didn't stop because she thought she hit a cone, not a person.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.