PA’s Hit and Run Loophole Mostly Closed

As reported late last year in the wake of a hit and run crash that killed Gregory Loper on Lehigh Avenue, Pennsylvania state law perversely encouraged drivers who hit and killed someone to flee the scene. This was due to the penalty for a fatal DUI being greater than the penalty for a fatal hit and run. We encouraged peopleto contact their state representative or senator to support HB 208, a bill written specifically to eliminate that discrepancy.

HB 208 passed in the final hours of the State legislature in Harrisburg late last week and the Governor is expected to sign it this week. The bill makes a fatal hit and run a 2nd degree felony (it is currently a 3rd degree felony as compared to a fatal DUI that incurs a 2nd degree felony). While it keeps the current mandatory minimum sentence at 1 year (the original House bill had made it a 3 year mandatory minimum), it allows for “sentencing enhancement.” The sentencing enhancement makes it more likely that a defendant will receive a substantial period of jail time. In some instances, the sentencing enhancement may actually go beyond what the original bill would have provided, according to House staff in correspondence with the Bicycle Coalition.