Assembly Passes Andrzejczak, Wimberly & Wilson Bill to Toughen Penalty for Evidence Tampering in a Hit-and-Run

(TRENTON) – The full Assembly approved on Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Benjie Wimberly and Gilbert L. “Whip” Wilson 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 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 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.

“Evidence tampering after a hit and run should be against the law and carry its own consequences,” said Wilson (D- Camden, Gloucester), a retired Camden Police Lieutenant. “This legislation underscores the importance of maintaining evidence and strengthens law to ensure those guilty of these types of crimes pay the appropriate price for their actions.”

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 bill passed 73-0. The Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee released the measure on December 4.