Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers

Teen Struck in Bucks County Hit and Run Accident, Police Investigating

Bucks County police are currently investigating an apparent hit and run that struck a teenage pedestrian at 7:30 A.M. this morning.   Fortunately, the victim’s injuries were minor and he is expected to make a full recovery. How are car accidents criminally charged and sentenced in Pennsylvania?

NHTSA Pennsylvania Car Accident Statistics

Bucks County police are reporting that a 16-year-old male pedestrian was “tapped” by a vehicle in Bristol Township early this morning.  The boy was rushed to the hospital and treated for injuries, mostly cuts and bruises, described as “very minor” by  Chief Lt. John Godzieba.   The accident occurred near the intersection of Winder Drive and Route 413. The vehicle which struck the boy was last seen traveling southbound toward the Burlington Bristol Bridge, though the driver’s identity is currently unknown.   Local authorities are currently investigating.

Fortunately, the injuries, in this case, were minor — not often the case in collisions between human bodies and cars weighing thousands of pounds.  The June 2008 National Pedestrian Crash Report compiled by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) highlights some interesting (if slightly morbid) statistical data about accidents involving pedestrians:

  • About two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities take place in urban areas.
  • The deadliest days of the years were New Year’s Day and Halloween.  The fact that both of these days are holidays seems to suggest alcohol and DUI play a role in contributing to these accidents, leading to the next point:
  • About 46% of pedestrian fatalities involve alcohol.
  • Males are more likely to be killed in crashes than females.  People older than 64 are also disproportionately affected.
  • “On average, 13 pedestrians die in vehicle crashes each day, or one pedestrian every
    107 minutes.”

The report found that in Pennsylvania, total pedestrian crash deaths have stayed remarkably consistent over the course of a decade:

  • 1997: 169 fatalities
  • 2000: 170 fatalities
  • 2003: 170 fatalties
  • 2006: 166 fatalties

How is Pennsylvania doing compared to other states?  Nearby New Jersey is on virtually identical ground, with a total of 165 deaths reported in 2006.  The same year, California had the highest number of fatalities at 717, while the lowest total belonged to Vermont, with an exceptional total of 0.  (In fact, Vermont’s highest total over the course of that decade was 12 deaths in 1997, compared to Pennsylvania’s low of 150 deaths in 2004.)

pennsylvania hit and run lawyer

During Pennsylvania’s worst year — 2001, with 188 fatalities documented statewide — Philadelphia accounted for 32 deaths, or 17%, which is slightly lower than the general two-thirds rule for urban centers mentioned above.  How does Philadelphia compare to other Pennsylvanian cities during the same year?  In 2001:

  • Allentown: 6 deaths
  • Reading: 2 deaths
  • Harrisburg: 3 deaths
  • Bethlehem: 0 deaths
  • Bensalem: 0 deaths
  • Lancaster: 0 deaths

While Philadelphia’s total was less than the expected two thirds, it was still far greater than the totals associated with smaller towns and cities (including Pittsburgh, which documented six fatalities that year).

These statistics are interesting, but say nothing about the way these accidents are handled by the criminal justice system.  If the driver is found and apprehended, what criminal charges and penalties could he or she be facing?

Charges and Penalties for Hit and Run Crimes in Pennsylvania

The most minor charge associated with a hit and run would probably be leaving the scene of an accident.  In Pennsylvania, drivers involved in accidents, however minor or catastrophic, are required to remain at the scene and share their information, including identification, license plate, vehicle registration, and insurance information.  If the driver flees the scene in an attempt to evade identification or even prosecution, he or she can be criminally charged and penalized with fines, imprisonment, and suspension of driving privileges.

However, there can also be charges for causing injury or death.  Depending on the extent of physical damage to the victim and other details of the incident, a hit and run driver could potentially be charged with:

  • Aggravated Assault by Vehicle (§ 3732.1) — 3rd Degree Felony
  • Aggravated Assault by Vehicle While DUI (§ 3735.1) — 2nd Degree Felony
  • Involuntary Manslaughter (§ 2504) — 1st Degree Misdemeanor.  If the victim is under 12 years old and is “in the care, custody or control of the person who caused the
    death”: 2nd Degree Felony.
  • Homicide by Vehicle (§ 3732) — 3rd Degree Felony

How are these different offense grades penalized in Pennsylvania?

  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor — Up to 5 years, up to $10,000.
  • 3rd Degree Felony — Up to 7 years, up to $15,000.
  • 2nd Degree Felony — Up to 10 years, up to $25,000.

Of course, these penalties would be further compounded by leaving the scene of the accident.

Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

If you or someone you love has been charged with vehicular assault, intoxicated driving, or even a traffic violation, it is very important that you contact an experienced Bucks County criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call the Allentown hit and run lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online today.