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PA Putting Out the Red Flag for Hit and Run Drivers

Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, both for an accident victim and the driver. Many drivers panic and seek to flee the scene. The law expects drivers to fight this urge and requires them to show the victim or a police officer at the scene their driver’s license and insurance information. It is a crime for the driver involved to leave the scene of the accident. The prosecutor and the courts generally treat a driver who flees the scene more harshly than one who remains at the scene of the accident. The law also requires the driver to assist the victim, including ensuring that the injured receive proper medical treatment if necessary.

On September 4, 2012, a new law took effect in Pennsylvania increasing the maximum prison sentence for drivers involved in fatal hit-and-run accidents to ten years. This law closed a loophole that classified a fatal hit-and-run accident as a third-degree felony with a seven-year maximum prison sentence while a fatal drunk driving accident was classified as a second-degree felony with a ten-year maximum prison sentence. The new law now equates the two offenses.

A similar law increasing the mandatory minimum sentence for non-fatal accidents cause by hit-and-run drivers failed to pass both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, but may be passed next year.

These laws represent the legislature’s intent to crack down harder on drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents. If you have caused a hit-and-run accident, you cannot afford to navigate the judicial process without an experienced attorney at your side. A veteran attorney can help you plan your best defense strategy and can handle your appeal if the facts warrant it.

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