Gov. Ed Rendell has signed legislation giving crash
investigators up to a year after an accident occurs to file summary charges.
The new law – Act 166 – extends the statute of limitations
from 30 days to a year for summary traffic violations to be filed in connection
with vehicle accidents involving injury or death.
“Because accidents can be horrific, involving multiple
vehicles and causing death and/or serious bodily injury, it can take several
months to finalize a detailed traffic investigation,” state Rep. Matt Baker
said in a statement. Until now, “law enforcement officials had only 30 days in
which to file summary charges against any motorist whom they determined may
have caused an accident.”
“Act 166 now gives law enforcement the necessary time
needed to complete investigations of the most difficult crashes and file
related charges,” he said.
Baker, R-Bradford, introduced the bill after hearing about
a May 2002 traffic accident on U.S. 15 north of Mansfield, PA, that killed John
Moschione and Adam Berry, and caused Rebecca Moschione to suffer serious
injuries. Because the investigation into the accident took seven months and
there were no eyewitnesses, the motorist found to have caused the accident –
when he illegally passed the Moschione vehicle while speeding in excess of 70
mph in a no-passing zone – was never charged.
“Nothing we can do will undo the traffic events of that
day, but I hope that knowing we’ve been able to tighten a loophole in the law
that can prevent victims and their families from suffering similar frustration
and hurt will bring some comfort to the Moschione and Berry families,” Baker
The new law – previously HB2572 – is scheduled to take
effect by the end of January.