A few days before Christmas in 2012, a five-year-old boy named Kevin Miller was crossing a street in Wilkes-Barre, PA with his family. Walking only steps behind his father, a vehicle came out of nowhere, fatally struck the boy, and fled the scene. Now, Pennsylvania law makers have finally taken steps to close what many call a “loop-hole” in the DUI laws.
Previously, the mandatory minimum sentence for fleeing the scene after a fatal crash was one year in prison. Kevin’s Law now increases the mandatory minimum to three years. Three years is also the mandatory minimum for a homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. Many hope that this new law will take away the driver incentive to flee the scene. Previously, drivers were quick to flee because of the low mandatory sentence for leaving. Once a certain amount of time passes, the police can no longer administer a BAC test, so even if a driver admits to drinking, he or she could not be charged with vehicular homicide while DUI.
Lawmakers now feel like the incentive to flee is gone, as the mandatory minimum will be the same. The hope is that a driver involved in a collision with a pedestrian will stop and lend help to the victim at the scene, which could potentially be life-saving. However, some feel as though the mandatory minimum in Pennsylvania for fleeing should have been higher. Some say that, at best, this leaves drivers with a 50-50 chance of being caught, which does not offer as strong an incentive to stop as some had hope for. At the very least, this step to tighten PA hit-and-run laws removes the motivation that a drive will get a lesser sentence by fleeing the scene of an accident.