FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy
Mundy looks to close hit-and-run loophole
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, reintroduced legislation (H.B.227) that would close a loophole in state law that makes it legally advantageous for a drunk driver to flee the scene of an accident rather than stop and offer assistance.
Mundy said the legal loophole was brought to her attention in 2007 after a fatal hit-and-run accident in her legislative district. The driver who caused the crash 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.
"Consequently, the driver ended up receiving a lesser sentence because the penalty for a hit-and-run offense is lower than it is for drunken driving accident resulting in death or serious injury," Mundy said. "That's not justice."
State law classifies a drunken driving accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury as a second-degree felony, punishable with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A hit-and-run accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony punishable with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Mundy’s legislation would reclassify a hit-and-run accident when death occurs as a second-degree felony. It would also add an additional fine and term of imprisonment for each victim, as well as raise the penalties if the hit-and-run accident is committed while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
"Drivers involved in an accident have a duty to stop and render aid," Mundy said. "Drivers who flee the scene of an accident may increase the time it takes for medical personnel to be notified, especially if the crash occurs in an isolated area or late at night. It also could lead to the victim suffering additional injuries or death if no one is there to assist them and alert oncoming traffic."