New Pennsylvania law intended to bring traffic violators to justice

| 12/22/2004

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 said.

The new law – previously HB2572 – is scheduled to take effect by the end of January.