OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5592

AN ACT CONCERNING THE TIME LIMITATION FOR PROSECUTING A MOTOR VEHICLE VIOLATION THAT RESULTS IN DEATH OR SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY TO ANOTHER PERSON.

SUMMARY:

This bill stops the statute of limitations from running during the time that police or prosecutors do not know the responsible driver's identity, in motor vehicle cases in which (1) someone is killed or seriously injured and (2) the responsible driver fled the scene.

The law requires a driver who knowingly seriously injures or kills another person to stop at the scene, render necessary assistance, and provide certain information to the injured person or police.

By law, the state must prosecute (1) misdemeanor cases (crimes punishable by up to one year in prison) within one year of an offense and (2) most felonies (crimes punishable by at least one year in prison) within five years. Under the circumstances covered by the bill, an offender may be charged with a number of crimes. There are at least four felonies (in addition to the crime of evading responsibility) that specifically involve motor vehicles causing a death or serious physical injury (see BACKGROUND).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2014

BACKGROUND

Evading Responsibility

A driver knowingly involved in an accident that causes serious physical injury to or the death of another must immediately stop; render necessary aid; and provide his or her name, address, and driver's license and registration information to the injured person, a police officer, or a person who witnessed the death or serious injury. If unable to do so for any reason, the driver must immediately report the death or serious injury and provide the required information to police (CGS 14-224 (a)).

Evading responsibility where a death or serious physical injury occurs is punishable by between one and 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both (CGS 14-224 (f)).

Second-Degree Manslaughter with a Motor Vehicle

A person is guilty of this crime when, while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any drug, or both, he or she causes the death of another person as a consequence of the effect of the alcohol or drug (CGS 53a-56b). The crime is a class C felony, punishable by between one and 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Misconduct with a Motor Vehicle

A person is guilty of this crime when, with criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle, he or she causes another person's death (CGS 53a-57). The crime is a class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Second-Degree Assault with a Motor Vehicle

A person is guilty of this crime when, while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any drug, or both, he or she causes serious physical injury to another person as a consequence of the effect of the alcohol or drug (CGS 53a-60d). The crime is a class D felony.

Increasing Speed in Attempt to Escape or Elude an Officer

It is illegal for anyone operating a motor vehicle, when signaled to stop by an officer in a police vehicle using an audible signal device or flashing or revolving lights, to increase the speed of the motor vehicle in an attempt to escape or elude the police officer (CGS 14-223 (b)). Violators who, as a result, cause someone's death or serious physical injury are guilty of a class C felony.

Serious Physical Injury

Serious physical injury means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious (1) disfigurement, (2) impairment of health, or (3) loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ (CGS 53a-3 (4)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

38

Nay

2

(04/02/2014)