(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nelson Albano and Bob Andrzejcak to increase the penalty for individuals who leave the scene of a fatal car accident and tampers with evidence related to the accident cleared an Assembly panel on Monday.
The legislation was named “Eddie’s Law” after the December 2010 death of Edward Morrison, a 36 year old Commercial Township man struck by a vehicle as he walked along Silver Run Road. The driver of the car was charged with fourth degree tampering with evidence for allegedly placing deer meat and ribs on his car in order to cover up the crime.
“Tampering, believe it or not, happens more than we think,” said Albano (D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland). “Whether it’s getting the car repaired, painted or altered in some way, its wrong. And in New Jersey, it will be a crime with tough penalties.”
“Hit and run is a cowardly crime,” said Andrzecjak (D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland). “Attempting to cover up the crime makes the act even worse. Every life taken is important. Every crime committed deserves the appropriate punishment.”
The bill would enhance the penalty for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting 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 would be 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. A person convicted under this bill is required to serve a prison term of 85 percent of his or her sentence before being eligible for parole.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and it now heads to the Assembly Speaker who will decide to post it for a floor vote. Similar legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew is under consideration in the Senate.