Andrzejczak & Wimberly Bill to Toughen Penalty for Evidence Tampering in a Hit-and-Run Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak and Benjie Wimberly that would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a deadly motor vehicle accident and concealing evidence related to the accident.

“Leaving the scene of an accident that results in someone’s death and then tampering with evidence to absolve yourself of responsibility is not just cold-blooded; it is criminal,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This bill ensures that the punishment fits the crime.”

“Walking away from an accident, then tampering with evidence to cover up fault is just wrong,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill helps ensure that those individuals who choose to walk away and then interfere with evidence to help themselves receive the appropriate punishment.”

The bill (A-984) would enhance the penalty for knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that results in the death of another person, and then attempting to destroy or conceal evidence relating to the accident. Under the provisions of the bill, it is a third degree crime to destroy evidence or give false information to a law enforcement officer after knowingly leaving the scene of an accident that results in another person’s death. This punishment would be imposed in addition to the penalty for the act of knowingly leaving the scene of the accident, which is a second degree crime.

A crime of the third degree is punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. In addition, under the bill, the offender would be required to serve 85 percent of the term of imprisonment imposed before being eligible for parole, notwithstanding that crimes of the third degree carry with them a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders.

The legislation was released by the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee.