Traffic Offenses

What Happens after a Hit and Run in Delaware County, PA?

Car Crash Picture

If your car crashes into another person’s car causing damage, and a person is in that vehicle at the time of the crash, then the law requires you to stop at the scene, provide certain information, and render aid to any injured person.

If you leave the scene without fulfilling these duties, then you can be charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 and 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. According to subsection (b) of section 3743, the charge of hit and run is a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Law enforcement agencies in Delaware County and Chester County have special procedures that they follow after a hit and run. In many case, the officers will try and track down the driver by going to their house or place of employment.

If you have already left the scene and a criminal investigation has begun, then you are not required to make a statement. Your best course of action is to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who can help you invoke your rights and work to resolve the case under the best possible terms.

What if I Didn’t Know About the Crash?

Although the statute does not contain a “mens rea” element explaining the driver’s state of mind, the court have imposed a requirement that the defendant must have “known or should have known” that he or she was involved in the accident. In Commonwealth v. Woosnam, 819 A.2d 1198 (Pa.Super. 2003), the Superior Court found that the trial court must give an instruction on the “known or should have known” element of the crime, even though the mens rea element is not found in the statutory language of section 3743.

The courts have also held that the scienter requirement must be proven through either direct proof or by circumstantial evidence from which knowledge could reasonably be inferred. If the court fails to properly instruct the jury on the knowledge requirement then that failure would be reversible error that would require a new trial.

If you were charged with hit and run resulting in damage to another vehicle or other property then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm represent clients charged with hit and run throughout Chester County including West Chester, PA. We also represent clients in the City of Chester, the borough of Media, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, PA.

Call us to discuss any criminal violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.

Elements of Hit and Run under Section 3743

To prove the crime of accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property (often called “hit and run”) a violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code found in Section 3743, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant was driving a vehicle that he or she knew or should have known was involved in an accident that resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property that was driven or attended by any person; and
  2. The defendant violated two duties:
    • the duty to stop and remain at the scene of the accident; and
    • the duty to give information and render aid to the injured person.

The Duty to Stop after a Crash in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law provides that the driver has a duty to stop his or her vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident while obstructing traffic as little as possible, or as close to the scene as possible. The law also provides that the driver must remain at the scene until he or she performs the second duty which is to give information and render aid.

The driver’s duty to give information requires the driver to give the following information:

  1. name;
  2. address;
  3. registration number of the vehicle.

Additional information, such as driver’s license and proof of insurance must be presented if requested by any of the following:

  1. any police officer at the scene of the accident;
  2. the driver of any vehicle involved in the crash; or
  3. any police officer investigating the accident.

In the event that the driver or person attending to the driver is not in the condition to receive the information that the driver is required to give, then the driver must give the information to any police officer that is present.

If no police officer is present under those circumstances, then the driver must still do the following:

  1. stop and remain at the scene;
  2. provide information and render aid (as much as possible);
  3. report the accident to the nearest office of a duly authorized police department;
  4. submit to the department the information previously described pertaining to the duty to provide information.

The Pennsylvania Suggested Criminal Jury Instructions for Hit and Run Resulting in Damage to Vehicle or Property are found at 17.3743.

We Defend Against Hit and Run Charges

If you were arrested for a hit and run in Chester County including West Chester, or in the County of Delaware including the borough of Media, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. Call 610-436-1410 today to discuss your case and possible defenses to this third degree misdemeanor.

We represent clients charged with leaving the scene of a crash without fulfilling their duties to stop at the scene and provide information. If you were charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 or 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, or believe you might be, then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. We can begin your defense today.

Also posted in Hit and Run | Tagged , | Comments Off on What Happens after a Hit and Run in Delaware County, PA?

West Chester DUI Lawyer Michael Skinner Examines Increased DUI and DUID Arrests In Pennsylvania

 

The end of 2011 closed out a decade of extreme and tough efforts by the Pennsylvania State Police on protecting the state’s roads and highways from drivers impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.  In 2010, Pensylvania arrests for driving under the influence set a record number and the police’s ninth consecutive year in which the number of DUI arrests by state police increased.  The amount of DUI arrests throughout the state showed an increase of nearly 5 percent from 16,900 DUI arrests in 2009 to 17,695 in 2010.

According to Commissioner Frank Noonan, “Protecting the public is the highest priority for the Pennsylvania State Police.”   Noonan states, “Taking impaired drivers off the road is one of the best ways to keep our citizens safe.”

A report from the Pennsylvania State of Independence with statistics given by Pennsylvania State Police, showed a decrease in the number of alcohol-related crashes investigated by troopers from 4,625 in 2009 to 4,595 in 2010; while, 2011 showed an increase in drug and alcohol-related fatal crashes. Correspondingly, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Pennsylvania increased in 2011, as well.

While police are continually on the look-out for drunk and other impaired drivers, many people who have been charged with a DUI in West Chester and other cities in Pennsylvania’s are unclear on the state’s DUI laws, or how a DUI can affect their futures.  Being arrested for DUI can happen to anyone, including doctors, lawyers, teachers and many other respectable professionals. No matter what you do for a living, a DUI arrest may potentially have severe effects on your career, education and/or personal life.

DUI convictions can result in a driver’s license suspension, suspended driving privileges, jail time, Installation of an ignition interlock device, alcohol highway safety course and fines starting at $300 to $5,000 for a first DUI in Pennsylvania, and depending on your Blood alcohol level (BAC).

Other common DUI charges include:

A DUI arrest is scary and has the power to harm many aspects of a person’s life, but there are steps one can take after being charged with a DUI to help protect his/her rights.  For certain first time offenders who are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program may be available. In many cases, this program permits dismissal of the DUI charges so the alleged offender can petition to have their record expunged. The DUI ARD program usually lasts for six months.

Call (267) 388-3476 to set up a free consultation with an experience West Chester DUI lawyer or visit http://www.skinnerlawfirm.net to learn more about the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program and other alternative options you may have after receiving a DUI charge in West Chester and surrounding areas.

Also posted in Criminal Process, Drunk Driving / DUI | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on West Chester DUI Lawyer Michael Skinner Examines Increased DUI and DUID Arrests In Pennsylvania

West Chester Traffic Crimes Attorney Discusses Law Enforcement Traffic Stop Increases during 2011 Holiday Season

During this 2011 holiday season, Pennsylvania state police are out in full force.  The standard increase in sheer number of officers alone is a given as well as their low tolerance level for criminal traffic offenses.  We assume they are looking for speeders and drunk drivers, and they are; however, this year, Pennsylvania state police are also seriously cracking down on distracted drivers.

If you live in West Chester, there is a good chance you have discovered the increased enforcement detail on Thanksgiving weekend. Police’s main goal is to promote traffic safety by ticketing distracted driving habits such as cell phone use while driving, texting and failure to obey the “move over” law when passing a stopped emergency vehicle.  Police are also on the look-out for DWI, conducting DWI (driving while intoxicated) sobriety enforcement details more regularly during the holiday season, resulting in more DWIs and other West Chester traffic offenses in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

No doubt, once you are stopped for a violation, it’s much easier for a police officer to further investigate and charge a man, woman or minor with multiple, sometimes unrelated crimes.  Even what seems like a normal speeding traffic stop can turn into multiple tickets and even an arrest.  Just last week a West Chester man was pulled over when police smelled an odor of burnt marijuana in the car and after police searched the vehicle, the man was charged with drug paraphernalia, suspected marijuana and a weapons violation.  All of the charges were further heightened in severity as the man was also driving with a suspended license.

When a regular traffic stop turns into a more serious situation, such as being pulled over for speeding and arrested for a West Chester DUI, it’s important to understand your rights, options and the consequences of your choices, whether you enter a plea or go to trial. If you choose not to fight the charges against you, punishments vary depending on the offense(s) you are charged with.  For example, driving with a suspended or revoked license due to DUI in Pennsylvania charge can have associated fines up to $500 and imprisonment for 60 to 90 days, and multiple misdemeanor offenses may turn your case into a felony.

The holidays are supposed to be a time with family and friends, not locked away in a jail cell.  Please, if you have been arrested or charged with one or multiple criminal traffic offenses in West Chester, obtain a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to help you understand your options and go over the details of your case so you can.  It is the only way to begin building a defense that helps protect your driving privileges and other rights.  From Skinner Law Firm, drive safe and Happy Holidays!

Also posted in Current Events, Drunk Driving / DUI | Tagged , , | Comments Off on West Chester Traffic Crimes Attorney Discusses Law Enforcement Traffic Stop Increases during 2011 Holiday Season
Contact Us Today

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. All fields are required.

Proud members of: A wide array of legal organizations