Andrzejczak & Wimberly Bill to Toughen Penalty for Evidence Tampering in a Hit-and-Run Now Law

(TRENTON) – 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 has been signed into law.

“Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in someone’s death and then tampering with evidence to absolve yourself is not just cold-blooded; it is criminal,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This law 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 law helps ensure that those individuals who choose to walk away and then interfere with evidence to help themselves receive the appropriate punishment.”

The law (A-984) enhances 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 law, it is a third degree crime to knowingly leave the scene of an accident that results in the death of another person and then destroy evidence or provide false information relating to the accident. This punishment will 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. Under the law, an individual guilty of this crime will have to serve a mandatory term of imprisonment, notwithstanding that crimes of the third degree carry with them a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders. The offender will have to serve a term of imprisonment which is fixed by the law at no less than one year, before being eligible for parole.

The law also makes it a crime of the third degree for another person to suppress, conceal or destroy evidence, or give false information in an investigation, if this actor knows that another person has been liable or is liable to be charged with leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident. Under the law, offenders of this crime will also be required to serve a term of imprisonment of not less than one year before being eligible for parole.