of Greater Philadelphia
Close the Hit and Run Loophole
Does it make sense for Pennsylvania law to encourage drunk drivers to flee the scene if they hit a pedestrian or bicyclist? Seems unimaginable, but it's true. Under Pennsylvan's Vehicle Code, a driver that causes a fatal crash with a bicyclist or pedestrian and flees the scene receives a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year. By comparison, a drunk driver who is engaged in a crash that results in death receives a three-year minimum prison sentence.
Due to this discrepancy, drunk drivers engaged in a crash that causes serious harm or death actually have an incentive to leave the scene, sober up and turn themselves in once they are no longer intoxicated. This can be tragic for the victim of the accident, who may be left with no way to contact authorities or receive much-needed medical attention.
Hit and run motorists account for 14-18% of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes.
PA State Representative Dave Reed introduced House Bill 208 to close this legal loophole and it passed out of the House in April 2011. HB208 would increase the penalty for drivers involved in a hit-and-run crash that results in a death from one to three years.
The Senate is considering the bill, but it has not yet been voted on by the Judiciary Committee. Email your Senator asking that they vote on HB208. Your letter will be copied to the leadership of the Judiciary Committee.