The Public Must be Protected; Justice Must be Served

March 22, 2011, Harrisburg—–Senator Larry Farnese today re-introduced two hit-and-run bills from the 2009-2010 Legislative Session, both of which strengthen the laws and increase the penalties for those who leave victims at the scene of car crashes.

“We must stiffen the penalties for drivers who hit people with their cars and then flee the scene with no regard for the victim. The offender gets a light sentence while the families of the victims suffer a lifetime of pain.”

At the request of Senator Farnese, a Senate Committee last March heard emotional testimony from Theresa Sautter, whose daughter Marylee Otto was killed March 28, 2008 by a hit-and-run driver and from Dolores Roberto, whose son Peter Jr., 12, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Thanksgiving Day 2004.

“I commend these mothers for their courage to tell their stories,” said Senator Farnese. The least we can do for them and their families is to create laws that would provide some comfort to them through achieving justice.”

The first bill, Senate Bill 888 ( formerly Senate Bill 1267,) addresses hit-and-run accidents. The legislation would increase the penalty for those who have committed a hit-and-run accident from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree with a $1,000 minimum fine. If serious bodily injury were caused by the hit-and-run accident, the penalty would be increased to include an additional fine and consecutive minimum term of imprisonment for each additional victim. If a victim dies in the course of a hit-and-run accident, the penalty would be increased from the current third degree felony to a felony of the second degree with additional fines and consecutive minimum terms of imprisonment imposed for each victim.

The second bill, Senate Bill 889 (formerly SB 1268,) will add a section to Title 75 to address the crime of aggravated assault by vehicle, making the offense a felony of the third degree. It would also provide for a maximum of two years’ confinement if the violation occurred in an active work zone or if the victim was an emergency service responder.

“I am hoping for bi-partisan support to get these laws passed,” said Senator Farnese. “The victims of these crimes and their families deserve it.”