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Pennsylvania enacts tougher hit-and-run law

on July 01, 2014 10:45 AM

HARRISBURG (AP) — A new law in Pennsylvania is toughening penalties for hit-and-run violations, inspired by the death of a 5-year-old boy in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday signed “Kevin’s Law,” which increases the mandatory minimum for leaving the scene of a fatal vehicle accident from one year to three years.

Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, called the bill the second portion of “Sean’s Law,” a measure he sponsored following the hit-and-run death of Sean Pearce, of Blairsville, in July 2005.

At the urging of Pearce’s family, local police and prosecutors, Reed drafted legislation raising the maximum penalty for leaving the scene of an accident.

Reed’s measure was signed into law July 5, 2012.

“‘Kevin’s Law’ now does the second component of what Sean’s Law was intended to do, it increases the mandatory minimum as well,” Reed said.

“The genesis was the realization at the time … that if someone is drinking or under the influence of drugs and they hit somebody, they stay at the scene of the accident, they call 911, they render aid, they’re subject to a mandatory three-year prison sentence if that person dies.” Reed said.

“However, if they leave the scene of an accident and get caught later when it can’t be proven they were drunk or under the influence of drugs, the mandatory minimum is only one year.

So the law provided an incentive for someone to leave the scene and not help the person.”

The measure signed Monday is named for Kevin Miller, who was killed shortly before Christmas in 2012 as he crossed the street with his family.

His death was one of five similar incidents in Luzerne County in 2012 that involved drivers who fled the scene of accidents.

“I cannot express how thrilled I am to be able to tell you all this. Sean’s legacy is now complete,” Reed commented Monday on his Facebook page.

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