RI Laws that Reward Drunk Drivers Who Leave the Scene of a Fatal Car Crash Must be Changed!

January 25, 2014

RI  Drunk Driver AccidentsLegislation should be passed in Rhode Island*, immediately, that appropriately punishes criminals who leave the scene of an accident resulting in death. These hit and run scofflaws should face the same minimum penalties as drunk drivers who flee the scene of a deadly car crash.

The law in Rhode Island should not encourage intoxicated bar patrons from fleeing the scene of a deadly wreck in a calculated move to avoid a dui, death resulting.

Certainly, someone who leaves the scene of a motorcycle-automobile collision may be less culpable for a death then a drunk driver who kills in an accident. This is because the act of taking off may not cause the death. However, lesser penalties for leaving the scene is having the unintended consequences of rewarding drunks who take off after a deadly pedestrian crash to evade a dwi death resulting.

Currently, there are three statutes that pertain to this issue either directly or indirectly. Sadly, the statutory scheme in Rhode Island rewards inebriated motorists who hit and run and leave their victim as road kill to die.

It is nearly impossible to prove a dui unless the criminal offender is apprehended at the scene of the mishap. Even if the accused is apprehended hours after the automobile crash, it is unlikely that THEIR BLOOD ALCOHOL COULD BE ADEQUATELY PROVED by the police AT THE TIME OF THE motor vehicle traffic collision. This is even more incentive to flee after a death caused by wasted or buzzed operation of an auto.

The minimum sentence for intoxicated driving causing a fatality is set forth in RI Law, § 31-27-2.2 Driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, resulting in death. This law states “Every person convicted of a first violation shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than five (5) years and for not more than fifteen (15) years, in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge…..” (emphasis added)

There is no minimum jail sentence for people who kill another motorist in a crash and leave the scene of the accident*!

The RI law for leaving the scene of an accident, death resulting states that “Any person charged with the commission of this offense shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not more than ten (10) years and have his or her license to operate a motor vehicle…”

Please note that the executor of the estate of a deceased person may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent motor vehicle operator and seek compensation for the death on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate.

*Editor’s Note: The state of Rhode Island general assembly issued a press release in January 2014 indicating there is proposed legislation that would strengthen hit and run law especially in the case of a serious injury or a fatality.. “STATE HOUSE – Sen. Edward J. O’Neill (I-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence) has pre-filed a bill that would create harsher penalties for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and says he is more dedicated than ever to protecting victims on the road.….For first time violators convicted of leaving the scene of an accident with death resulting, the law would change the penalties to between five and 30 years of imprisonment and between $15,000 and $50,000 in fines. The individual’s license would also be revoked for a period of at least 10 years.” State oRhode Island General ate of Rhode Island General Assembly http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/pressrelease/_layouts/RIL.PressRelease.ListStructure/Forms/DisplayForm.aspx?List=c8baae31-3c10-431c-8dcd-9dbbe21ce3e9&ID=9299

If you are injured in an accident in Rhode Island, Please contact East Providence auto accident/ personal Injury Attorney, David Slepkow

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.