FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy
Bill to close hit-and-run loophole ready for governor's signature
HARRISBURG, June 29 – Legislation long championed by state Rep. Phyllis Mundy to remove a legal incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of an accident is now on its way to the governor.
"I have introduced and reintroduced legislation to close this loophole since a fatal hit-and-run accident in my legislative district in 2007," said Mundy, D-Luzerne. "This legislation is long overdue, and I'm pleased that it finally has passed both the House and Senate."
The driver who caused the fatal 2007 accident admitted to drinking the night of the accident, but police were unable to test her blood-alcohol level because of the amount of time that had elapsed between the accident and when she was taken into custody. The driver ended up receiving a lesser sentence because the penalty for a hit-and-run offense resulting in fatality is lower than a drunken driving accident resulting in fatality.
While various bills have been introduced to eliminate the incentive to flee the scene of an accident, the Senate incorporated Mundy’s approach into the legislation by reclassifying a hit-and-run accident where death occurs as a second-degree felony. Her approach allows the judge to use his discretion to issue a more severe sentence in circumstances where he feels one to be warranted.
"Something had to be done so that those who flee the scene of an accident are not rewarded for their selfish actions," Mundy said. "While closing this loophole may not influence someone’s decision to flee an accident, it would certainly ensure that the punishment they receive fits the crime.”