Some officials across Pennsylvania are calling for changes to the state’s hit and run laws, even after enhancements passed by the state House last year that were sponsored by State Representative Dave Reed.
Reed first introduced the legislation following the death of Sean Pearce of Burrell Township, Indiana County, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle on state Route 119 north of Blairsville on July 15, 2005. Reed’s bill easily passed the state House but ran into some opposition in the state Senate. The original House bill increased the mandatory minimum penalty for hit-and-run drivers who were driving under the influence to three years in prison.
Some in the Senate opposed that plan, claiming it would lead to more overcrowding in state prisons. In a compromise, the charged was increase to a second-degree felony, with a maximum term of 10 years rather than the original seven. The original one-year mandatory minimum sentence stayed the same. Some prosecutors are asking the state to return to the drawing board because they say the regulations still encourage drivers to leave the scene of a crash if they’ve been drinking because very few offenders would be eligible under sentencing guidelines for the maximum term of ten years.