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Return to accident scene does not absolve hit-and-run driver

Most people in Lackawanna County understand that a driver who is involved in a traffic accident is legally required to remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Leaving the accident scene before police arrive can exposes a driver to criminal charges. In a recent incident in Scranton, a driver thought that he could bend the law a bit by leaving the scene and then returning as soon as possible. The police did not accept the excuse.

The driver was employed by ARC of Northeastern Pennsylvania and was transporting four ARC clients to ARC's facility in Scranton. He struck a pedestrian at the intersection of Prescott Avenue and Mulberry Street. Instead of stopping, he continued to the ARC facility and discharged his passengers. He then returned to the scene of the accident with an ARC supervisor, arriving about 10 minutes after the accident occurred. He told police that he had been blinded by the sun and did not see the pedestrian. The victim suffered head, pelvic and leg injuries but is expected to survive.

The police informed the driver of the van that he had committed a crime by leaving the accident scene, even for just a few minutes. One of the officers explained the policy behind the law. First, the driver is required to make contact with police who are investigating the scene. Second, by leaving the scene, the driver left the victim in greater jeopardy of being struck by another vehicle. The van driver was tested for intoxication, but the police have not released any results.

Leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Anyone who is involved in a traffic accident should stay put until the police arrive. Any concerns about potential DUI charges or other crimes should be discussed with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. In this age of the cell phone, making such contact at the scene of the accident is no longer difficult.

Source: PA Home Page, "'ARC' Driver charged with Hit & Run that Injured Elderly Man," Mark Hiller, Jan. 5, 2017

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