Hit and Run in Arizona

Hit and Run (H&R), also called leaving the scene, failure to stop, fleeing the scene, occurs anytime a driver is involved in a collision, and fails to fulfill their duties. These duties include, first and foremost, stopping, and remaining on the scene in order to complete both paperwork-type things like exchange identification, and also include a duty to “render reasonable assistance…” to anyone injured.

>> AN ASIDE: imposing a duty to render aid under pain of imprisonment is a fairly unusual thing under the law. perhaps there’s some latin phrase? to put it another way, most criminal laws specify what things people must not do, not what they must do <<

It will come as no surprise that bicyclists and pedestrians are over-represented as victims of H&R drivers. For example, 24% (6 of 25) of the cyclists killed in Arizona in 2009 were H&R victims (Manner and Fault in Bicyclist Traffic Fatalities: Arizona 2009). Likewise, pedestrian-victim H&R rates are high, 18% nationwide using 1998-2001 FARS data ( DOT HS 809-456 2003). By contrast, only about 2% of  motorists killed are victims of a H&R drivers ( AAA factsheet: “Nearly 1,500 people die annually (1994-2003) in hit and run crashes… Approximately 6 in 10 fatally injured victims are pedestrians” ). Three year averages from Arizona are consistent with these number.

H&R is highly correlated with other illicit behavior, such as DWI/DUI and driving on a suspended or no license.  And alarmingly, things are trending worse: “Between 1998 and 2007, while the total number of annual pedestrian deaths decreased, the proportion of hit-and-run pedestrian deaths has in fact increase” ( Factors associated with hit-and-run pedestrian fatalities and driver identification MacLeod, 2009).

Recognizing that H&R is a particularly odious and cowardly crime, the penalties can be significant. For example, in the case of a serious injury or death, the crime is a class 2/3 felony (2 if the fleeing driver caused the wreck, 3 if not). To put that in perspective, manslaughter is a class 2 (see roundup of homicide types) and only 1st and 2nd degree murder carry the most-serious category of class 1 felony. Below are excerpts involving H&R involving serious injury and death (note the parts in ALL CAPS are from “Joey’s Law” enacted in 2012, discussed below in section on Legislative History).

§28-661. Accidents involving death or personal injuries; failure to stop; classification; driver license revocation

A. The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person shall:
1. Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene…
2. Remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of section 28-663.

B. A driver who is involved in an accident resulting in death or serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 and who fails to stop or to comply with the requirements of section 28-663 is guilty of a class 3 felony, except that if a driver caused the accident the driver is guilty of a class 2 felony.

C.  A driver who is involved in an accident resulting in (any other)  injury  …  is guilty of a class 5 felony.

D. The sentence imposed on a person for a conviction under this section shall run consecutively to any sentence imposed on the person for other convictions on any other charge related to the accident.

E. The department shall revoke the license or permit to drive and any nonresident operating privilege of a person convicted pursuant to subsection B of this section AS FOLLOWS:
1. FOR AN ACCIDENT RESULTING IN SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY, five years, NOT INCLUDING ANY TIME THAT THE PERSON IS INCARCERATED.
2. FOR AN ACCIDENT RESULTING IN DEATH, TEN YEARS, NOT INCLUDING ANY TIME THAT THE PERSON IS INCARCERATED.

F. FIVE OR MORE YEARS AFTER THE REVOCATION PERIOD HAS BEGUN PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION E, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS SECTION, NOT INCLUDING ANY TIME THAT THE PERSON IS INCARCERATED, A PERSON MAY APPLY TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR A RESTRICTED PRIVILEGE TO DRIVE AS DESCRIBED IN SECTION 28‑3473, SUBSECTION B. THE DEPARTMENT MAY ISSUE A RESTRICTED PRIVILEGE TO DRIVE AS DESCRIBED IN SECTION 28‑3473, SUBSECTION B IF THE DEPARTMENT FINDS BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. THE PERSON IS NOT CONVICTED OF ANY OFFENSE INVOLVING THE OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE WHILE THE PERSON’S DRIVING PRIVILEGE IS REVOKED.
2. THE PERSON HAS PAID FULL RESTITUTION AS ORDERED BY THE COURT.

G. The department shall revoke the license or permit to drive and any nonresident operating privilege of a person convicted pursuant to subsection C of this section for three years.

§28-663. Duty to give information and assistance; … A3. Render reasonable assistance to a person injured in the accident

§13-702. First time felony offenders; sentencing; definition

A. Unless a specific sentence is otherwise provided, the term of imprisonment for a first felony offense shall be the presumptive sentence…

D. The term of imprisonment for a presumptive, minimum, maximum, mitigated or aggravated sentence shall be within the range prescribed under this subsection. The terms are as follows [for mitigating/aggravating factors, see 13-701 E/D] :

Felony   Mitigated  Minimum    Presumptive Maximum   Aggra
Class 2  3 years    4 years    5 years     10 years  12.5 years
Class 3  2 years    2.5 years  3.5 years   7 years   8.75 years
Class 4  1 year     1.5 years  2.5 years   3 years   3.75 years
Class 5  .5 years   .75 years  1.5 years   2 years   2.5 years
Class 6  .33 years  .5 years   1 year      1.5 years 2 years

So, in summary, it sounds pretty harsh: somewhere around 3.5 or 5 years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, and a mandatory 5 year driver’s licence revocation. The prison sentence can vary widely depending on if there are any prior felonies, or mitigating, or aggravating factors. There are even long penalties for the same class of felony as specified in §13-704, if the offense is deemed “dangerous” (it’s not clear to me how that distinction is made) — e.g. the presumptive, first time offender for a dangerous class 2 is 10.5 years.

Reality Intrudes

I don’t have any way to extract statistics on sentencing, but it seems like i’ve been noticing case after case with very light sentencing for H&R so here goes the anecdotes.

Cody Ryan Davis Case

Case CR-2010137585 in Maricopa County Superior Court. On July 10, 2010 Moto-cyclist Bradley Scott was killed while proceeding straight through a green signal, “Police (said) video shows Scott was legally riding a bicycle with the flow of traffic”. Hit-and-run driver Cody Ryan Davis was arrested about a week later and subsequently plead guilty in a plea agreement. The main element was a guilty plea to leaving the scene, a class 3 felony. As I read the sentence, he received 1 year (to be served in county jail, not prison; oh, and it includes work release), 3 years of probation, and a handful of seemingly small fines. I don’t know how the 5 year license revocation works, but i am hoping it is automatic, the agreement doesn’t say anything about it. I am told by a source familiar with these matters that this is a pretty standard deal (suspending the sentence).

So I have a bunch of questions: Why a class 3 and not a class 2? It certainly appears Davis was at fault in the collision. But setting that aside, how in the world do they get 1 year for a class 3 felony? 13-702 seems to clearly indicate that no less that 2 years is legal — and that would be including mitigating factors, of which I don’t think there are any; none are mentioned in the agreement.

Was Davis DUI at the time? There is this mention of alcohol in the agreement, during probation Davis may “Not consume or possess any substances containing alcohol”. So since Davis fled and hid out for days, nobody knows legally whether he was or wasn’t. As mentioned previously, H&R drivers are highly correlated with DUI  (MacLeod, 2009). In the event that Davis was DUI, he clearly made the right decision to flee — the DUI would have led to a manslaughter charge (5 years presumptive. And that’s in prison, not county,  and no work release AFAIK).

But that was the whole point in stiffening the penalties for H&R, to remove the incentive to flee.

Nathan Tom Bartley Case

The lead in the yumasun.com story says it all:

The driver in a hit-and-run accident that killed a 15-year-old Yuma boy earlier this year (1/13/2011) will receive probation instead of prison under the terms of a plea agreement.

Nathan Tom Bartley, 18, an Arizona Western College student and football player at the time, pleaded guilty Friday in Yuma County Superior Court to one count of attempted obstruction of criminal justice and one count of tampering with physical evidence. The plea agreement stipulates that he be sentenced to a term of probation.

In return for his guilty plea, a charge of failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving a fatality was dismissed.

This deal was cooked up by the LaPaz County Prosecutor because of a conflict within the Yuma County’s office — the deal, of course had to have been blessed  the (Yuma County Superior) Court. Case number CR-201100131, the case minutes with the actual plead deal aren’t up yet. Since the leaving-the-scene charge was dismissed, that means no license suspension. Nice.

Abigail Allin

Sam Abate was seriously injured while riding his bicycle in Tucson, the driver fled the scene. Police arrested Abigail A. Allin several days later. After a protracted legal goings on (including a legally-interesting case of her withdrawn plea deal going all the way to Court of Appeals); she got incarceration limited to time served (15 months in county jail apparently with releases) and 5 years parole. No prison. Full Story. Her MVD abstract has a blank box under “other” which I believe means the court is suppressing her (what should be automatic, and mandatory) license suspension.

Gary Foshee

Convicted of manslaughter plux 2x endangerment; sentenced to 10.5 years in the death of Russell Jenkins, the hit-and-run and/or additional aggravating circumstances were nowhere to be found in sentencing. I don’t know why.

Benito Gil-Mendoza

Defendant agreed to plea to aggravated assault and hit-and-run. 10 years prison for the assault, and sentence suspended for hit-and-run.  Sentencing document linked here.

Roger Stevenson

Defendant plead guilty to extreme DUI and hit-and-run; sentenced to some probation and an additional 30 days in county (in addition to 150 days served while awaiting). Details, see scottsdale-cyclist-dies-after-hit-and-run-crash.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders drove onto the sidewalk and killed Joey Romero; then fled the scene. She was sentenced to 6 year incarceration for negligent homicide, followed by 3 years probation for the hit-and-running. Details. See also, “Joey’s law”, below.

Nicholas Linsk

Nicholas Linsk killed Barrow’s neurologist Dr. Marwan Maalouf  after striking him from behind with his pickup truck while Dr. Marwan was riding in a bike lane; he stopped, but then drove off. Sentencing is scheduled for early September 2013. Details.

Thomas Cole Wuertz

Thomas Cole Wuertz, 22,  ultimately plead guilty to endangerment for the very serious injuries he caused to bicyclist Edward Brennan, 57 on April 3, 2013, In a plea deal that called for no jail time; the hit and run charges were dropped.  No one ever said (publicly, or in the news that i can find) why the more serious charges were dropped. Details at casa-grande-pd-nabs-hit-and-run-suspect. The Casa Grande PD needs to be complimented on their police work in catching the driver.

Other Cases

Others can be found by following the  hit-and-run tag.

The Dirty Secret of Hit-and-run Sentencing

The pattern seems to be hit-and-runners get some prison (either a little or a lot, typically depending solely on whether or not they were caught impaired), and the hit-and-run charge’s sentence gets “suspended” somehow, and never results in any consecutive prison time. This seems to be in direct conflict with the statutory intentions of the hit-and-run law’s penalties. (it’s not even clear if the mandatory 3/5/10 year license revocations are occurring, see the Allin case for more discussion).

The bottom line is these seemingly harsh penalties are nothing more than an illusion, and there remains a strong incentive for impaired drivers to hit-and-run.

Legislative History

Over the years, the H&R statutes hadn’t changed much.  Then relatively recently, legislators recognized the problem that weak penalties for H&R, especially compared to DUI penalties, were encouraging motorists involved in collisions to flee the scene. As a result, penalties were increased twice in the recent past. In 2002, Forty-fifth Legislature Second Regular Session, Chapter 228, added the part about making the prison sentence consecutive (in addition to, as opposed to concurrent which is really like getting no penalty at all) and other penalty. It also added specific, lengthy license revocation period (5/3 years, death or serious / any other injury). “Representative Foster, sponsor of the bill, stated that the law right now requires you to stay and render aid if there is injury or potential death. However, those laws are not being enforced.”

Penalties were increased again in 2007, 48th Legislature, 1st Regular session, Chapter 154 the criminal category of the crime was increased by one across the board. This, for example, elevated a hit and run resulting in a fatal or serious injury to a class 2 (same as manslaughter!), which is where we are today. There was little discussion and the bill passed unanimously according to the minutes of both house and senate transportation committees.

Penalties were increased yet again in 2012 (eff. 8/2/2012), “Joey’s Law”, 50th Legislature, 2nd Regular session, Chapter 191Senate Bill 1163. For background on the case that inspired Joey Romero’s father to get this law enacted, see driver-gets-6-years-in-sidewalk-killing. The gist of it is putting teeth into 28-661 to require significant (at least 5 years for fatality or serious injury) license revocation; and time spent incarcerated does not count. It’s too soon to know how this will pan out but I feel it is a step in the right direction, as opposed to, say, simply adding more prison time, which as we’ve seen above, never actually gets sentenced anyways. The license revocations should be automatic through already-required court reporting of all (transportation-related) violations to MVD.  This general procedure is explained in some detail so-youve-killed-somebody-with-your-car-now-what and scroll down to “The MVD Abstract”

In 2014, once again, Peoria resident Jesse Romero worked with Rep. Rick Gray, R-Sun City to get the law passed. (effective 7/24/2014) HB2505 51st Legislature, 2nd Regular session (or see chaptered version) modified the H&R laws so that a court must order drug/alcohol screening if the fleeing driver was proven to be impaired based on a “preponderance” (a lower standard) of evidence. Additionally there was an upgrade in 28-663 to the criminal classifications: “(the new law) makes it a felony for a driver involved in a collision to leave the scene without assisting someone who is injured”; from a M3 to a F6 if drugs/alcohol is shown to be a factor.

OLDER (getting in the wayback machine)

These are accessible via HeinOnline (which can, among other ways, be accessed with and asu login):

1913

1927 8th Legislature, 4th Special Session, HB2 …Code for the systematic and orderly administation of all matters and affairs directly affecting or concerning the highways of the state… the title goes on for several pages. “It may be cited as The Highway Code.” Ch. 2 p5-???.  Chapter V, Operation of Motor Vehicles — Rules of the road: Section 27 is hit and run, on p.108-109; and is quoted in State v. Lee.

1935 12th Legislature, Regular Session, HB41 Proof of Financial Responsibility… , Ch 45, pages 165-182. [this is a reference only; it just involves revoking driver license for various reasons including hit and run. I didn’t save a copy of session laws]

1950 19th Leg 1st Special Session (This was apparently co-published with 1951/20th legislature in one document), HB5 Regulating Traffic on Highways, Chapter 3, pages 522-598 (So it’s obviously a big bill. Hit and run is on pages 535-536). The modern numbering of 28-661/2/3 correspond (approximately?) to as Sec. 39, 40 and 41. This is confusing because these section numbers seem to only apply to within the bill itself?

1976 32rd Leg 2nd Regular session, Chapter 142 [reference to 28-661 only] Something to do with setting aside judgement, and exceptions.  I didn’t save a copy of the session laws for this.

1977 33rd Leg 1st Regular session, Chapter 142 [reference to 28-661 only] Something to do with exceptions for fines.  I didn’t save a copy of the session laws for this.

1978 33rd Legislature, 2nd Regular Session, HB2025 Crimes and Offenses, Ch. 201 page 677-??? (this bill is a huge rewrite of the entire criminal code, the pages of interest are 833-834). Amended 28-661 to get rid of a mandatory 30 day county jail sentence for hit-run w/death or injury to a class 1 misdemeanor. Amended 28-662 from an unspecified misdemeanor to a class 3.

1980 34th Leg 2nd regular session, SB1046 Crimes – Ordinance Violations – Fines and Imprisonments, Ch. 229  pages 718-741. Bump 28-661 criminal classification from a M1 to F6

1985 37th Leg 1st Regular session, Chapter 364 [reference to 28-661 only] added 28-661 to a list of exceptions for criminal judgement to be set aside in 13-907.  I didn’t save a copy of the session laws, since it’s just a reference.

1986 37th Leg 2nd Regular session, Chapter 248 [reference to 28-661 only] SB1232. Law involving restitution.  I didn’t save a copy of the session laws, since it’s just a reference.

1992  40th Leg 2nd Regular Session, HB2132 vol 2 Session Laws Ch. 330 pages 2012-2026; This was a dui law, did some tinkering with 28-661 that didn’t directly involve dui.

1995 42nd Legislature, 1st Regular Session SB1027, Session Laws Ch. 63 pages 242-243.  This was a bill that up’ed the criminal classifications in 28-661 from an F5 to and F4/3 (4 if caused, 3 if not caused by the hit-and-run driver) for serious injury/death. The classification of non-serious stayed at F6. Some other minor grammatical /clarification type changes.

1996 42nd Legislature, 2nd Regular Session SB1076. Session Laws Ch. 76 p.173-198 (it actually goes on way past that). The name of the bill Title 28 Rewrite — Conforming Legislation; is indeed a major re-shuffling of the enter transportation code; as such 661/2/3 appear in this bill as if all new but that’s not really the case.

 

The site deadlyroads.com is a pretty good resource, unfortunately, the site doesn’t seem to be updated but still has some well written essays and background info.

30 thoughts on “Hit and Run in Arizona”

  1. Hi Ed,

    No alcohol is a standard part of a plea agreement, it is pre-printed on the form, so there’s really no reason to infer that it is a term of probation for any one specific person or that alcohol was suspected.

    I would want to see the Complaint and any motion practice before I could comment specifically on why this is a class 3 rather than a class 2. I also agree that a sentence below the mitigated is not appropriate. The actual plea may have lowered to a class 6 so that it could be county jail rather than dept. of corrections?

    Keep in mind that aside from the hit/run felony statute, there is also a felony for killing while running a red light. A.R.S. 28-672. This is a class 3 misdemeanor.

  2. From the azdailysun.com police blotter October 9, 2008:

    A 21-year-old bicyclist riding northbound on Humphreys Street near Aspen Avenue reported being pushed off his bike and bumped in the back at about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday by the driver of a Ford pickup.
    The bicyclist told Flagstaff police the driver had been yelling at the cyclist to get off the road, and saying things like “ride your f— bike on the sidewalk.”
    The cyclist looked back at the driver, who he saw as a white male in his 30s or 40s, and decided to ignore him, as he said he had done with other angry drivers.
    The driver then hit the cyclist with his vehicle, pushing the cyclist off his bike, breaking a cable on the bike, and began pushing the cyclist in the back with his pickup, the cyclist told police.
    The cyclist noted the license plate of the truck as the truck slowly drove away.
    The crime was listed as a felony hit and run and aggravated assault by police, though no one has been charged in the case.
    Flagstaff police looked up the owner of the truck as registered to the state and mailed a letter to that address after an unsuccessful attempted phone call to a disconnected number.

  3. Here’s an anecdote. I don’t have time to find particulars; it seems awfully light sentence — probation for hit-and-run killing a ped?? Evidence problems, maybe? dunno. the text is confusing. Also, “facing… 2 1/2 years” would imply a class 4 felony. It should have been either a 2 or 3.

    At the Courthouse: Teen gets probation in death of another teen
    A 19-year-old Tucson man is serving three years probation for his involvement in the death of a 16-year-old pedestrian.
    Tucson police say that on March 9, Daniel Juan Amado and someone in a black Honda were speeding down Campbell Avenue when Amado’s car suddenly swerved, hit a curb, careened out of control, hit a fire hydrant and Ricardo Manriquez, who died an hour later.
    Police said Amado left the scene with the people in the Honda, but was later arrested at his girlfriend’s house.
    Amado pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in physical injury and was facing probation or up to 2 1/2 years in prison.
    Judge Deborah Bernini placed him on three years probation last month.
    Amado told a probation officer he wasn’t racing when he crashed and he had no idea he’d hit anyone. He said he lost control when someone veered into his lane.
    Amado also said he thinks of Manriquez and his family everyday and feels his own future is ruined as he had planned to go into the military.
    Manriquez was a student at Sunnyside High School.

    Read more:

  4. Phoenix incident 10001847679 (name: Redondo), ADOT#10001847679.

    Narrative by Phoenix police Yamane (emphasis added):

    V1 was travelling east bound in the number 1 lane at a high rate of speed when V1 made an unsafe lane change at struck the driver side of V2. V2 was travelling eastbound in the number 2 lane at approximately 45MPH. THE DRIVER OF V1 LEFT THE SCENE. NO CONTACT WAS MADE BY POLICE. V1 was disabled after stricking the sec (?) of 71st Ave and Thomas.

  5. at least SOMETIMES, SOME judges/ prosecutors dish out significant sentences for hit-and-run. I wonder exactly what discretion judges have in Arizona for arrangements like permanant driver’s license revocation??

    Saratoga businessman Robert Schiro sentenced to three years in state prison – ordered never to drive again

    By Tracey Kaplan
    Updated: 06/18/2012 05:53:21 PM PDT

    Branding Saratoga businessman Robert Schiro as “callous” and a “danger to the community,” Judge Sharon Chatman on Monday ordered him to serve an unusually tough sentence for a hit-and-run accident that left a cylist permanently injured — three years in state prison and the permanent loss of his driver’s license.
    “The court puts a lot of weight on remorse and what the evidence shows is, there’s absolutely no remorse,” said Chatman, who ruled after hearing tearful impact statements from victim Ashley Jackson Nelson’s brother-in-law about being taunted repeatedly by Schiro outside court. The judge flatly told Schiro, “Your privilege to drive a vehicle is revoked for the rest of your life.”
    The sentence — which Chatman said was meant in part to deter other hit-and-run drivers — appeared to stun Schiro, 72. His lawyer Dan Jensen had asked for probation, citing his client’s age and deteriorating mental condition brought on in part by chronic alcoholism.
    Tipping his mostly bald head back and raising his hands to his face, Schiro exhaled audibly and mouthed “unbelievable,” as the bailiffs stripped him of his pocket change and other personal belongings, in preparation for taking him into a holding cell.
    Permanent damage
    Nelson and her relatives were elated. Even though the judge didn’t impose the maximum sentence of four years, she exceeded the two years recommended by the probation department and also declined to have Schiro serve the time in county jail, considered less onerous than prison.
    Monday’s hearing ended a protracted legal battle that began April 19, 2009, when Schiro veered into the bike lane on Highway 9 near Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga, violently toppling Ashley Nelson. At the time, Schiro was on probation for a drunken driving conviction and his license had been suspended.
    “It’s over, justice was served,” said Dave Nelson, Ashley Nelson’s husband, who witnessed the crash that left his then-fiance unconscious and gurgling blood. “Now we can move on.”
    The crash left Ashley Nelson with permanent brain damage, palsy to the left side of her body and significant damage to her vision. Recently, she was awarded $3 million in a legal settlement with Schiro’s insurance company.
    But choking back sobs Monday, she said she would gladly give back the money if it meant she — once a competitive cyclist — could be restored to her peak pre-crash physical and mental condition.
    Over the weekend, Ashley Nelson said, a driver ran a red light, crashing into the car she was driving. She said the driver acted responsibly by stopping, showing concern for her and her child, and admitting fault.
    “Bob Schiro could have stopped that day,” she told the judge. “It was an accident — he turned it into a crime.”
    Red flag warning
    The judge also noted Schiro tried to cover up his role in the crash, first by telling his mechanic that his girlfriend had been in a car accident in his silver BMW. The mechanic testified at Schiro’s trial that he was told they hadn’t reported the accident to police, so Schiro wanted him to order a replacement mirror from out of the area. The mechanic reported the conversation to police about two weeks later, after he heard about Nelson’s injuries from the accident.
    The judge took the coverup into account and also considered an incident that occurred just last week. Schiro was stopped for erratic driving — on the same stretch of Highway 9 where the hit-and-run occurred.
    Schiro told the sheriff’s deputy who pulled him over that he had been drinking beer at lunch and later after work. His blood-alcohol level was .039, well below the legal limit of .08, and he was not cited.
    But the incident raised a red flag for the judge. She had been told that Schiro spent time after the crash drying out at the Betty Ford Recovery Center and that he was faithfully attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
    “Mr. Schiro, when you’re in AA, clean and sober means you do not drink, not you’re not drunk,” she said. “To drink and drive, after having a DUI and being involved in an accident that caused serious injuries is a profound statement of the risk you present.”

    Judge orders Saratoga businessman Robert Schiro not to drive this weekend
    By Tracey Kaplan
    Updated: 06/15/2012 06:32:14 PM PDT

    Concerned about public safety, a Judge Friday sternly ordered a Saratoga businessman not to drive until he is sentenced Monday for a hit-and-run accident that severely injured a competitive bicyclist.
    Despite the unusual order, the bicyclist and her supporters said Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Sharon Chatman didn’t go far enough in protecting the community against Robert Schiro. They wanted the judge to lock the 72-year-old up — now.
    “I just say, ‘Saratoga, beware this weekend,’ ” said Dave Nelson, who was riding with his then-finance at the time of the crash. “This guy thinks he’s above the law.”
    Chatman’s order came after Schiro was stopped just days ago for erratic driving — on the same stretch of Highway 9 in Saratoga near Fruitvale Avenue where he swerved into the bike lane three years ago, toppling Ashley Jackson Nelson.
    Schiro, 72, told the sheriff’s deputy who pulled him over Monday night that he had been drinking. But his blood-alcohol level was .039, well below the legal limit of .08, and he was not cited.
    At the time of the April 19, 2009, hit-and-run crash, Schiro was on probation for a drunken driving conviction and his license had been suspended.
    His trial on the hit-and-run charges involving Ashley Nelson was delayed until early this year, in part because he was drying out at the Betty Ford Center.
    “He is a continued risk to the community,” prosecutor Katrina Ohde told Chatman on Friday, imploring her to put him in jail.
    The crash left Ashley Nelson with permanent brain damage, palsy to the left side of her body and significant damage to her vision.
    Schiro faces a maximum sentence of four years. He was supposed to have been sentenced Friday, but there wasn’t enough time for the judge to hear his attorney Dan Jensen’s motion for a new trial.
    Although Schiro told Chatman he would abide by the no-driving order, he immediately complained, “But where I live is way away from the grocery store and stores.”
    Schiro’s doctors have expressed concern that the elderly man’s mental facilities are decreasing, according to court documents. As the group was filing out of the courtroom, Schiro turned to Dave Nelson’s older brother Steve Nelson and made a comment that prompted his lawyer to hush him up, “You get uglier every time I see you.”

  6. Arizona 2010 Hit-and-Run collisions

    Arizona 2010 Hit-and-Run collisions
    – – – – – All Crashes – – – – –
    Crashes where Victim is KSI

    Crashes Hit-and-Run percent Hit-and-Run
    Crashes Hit-and-Run percent Hit-and-Run
    All types 106,301 11,402 10.7% 4250 214 5.0%
    MV-bike 1,912 255 13.3% 237 24 10.1%
    MV-ped 1,449 282 19.5% 470 68 14.5%

    Source: 2010 ADOT collision database.

    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident;
    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType IN (‘PEDALCYCLIST’));
    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType IN (‘PEDESTRIAN’));
    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident WHERE HitAndRunFlag=1;
    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType IN (‘PEDALCYCLIST’)) AND HitAndRunFlag=1;
    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType IN (‘PEDESTRIAN’)) AND HitAndRunFlag=1;

    and InjurySeverity is in table incident — 1 to 5 with 5=fatal so e.g. the number of fatal bicyclist hitandruns in 2010:

    SELECT count(*) FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType IN (‘PEDALCYCLIST’)) AND HitAndRunFlag=1 AND InjurySeverity=5;

    The counts were 5(my records show 6?)/1/5 for 2009/2010/2011

  7. Ed,

    Thanks for your continued efforts to see justice served. I will follow up with the docked cases and if you find out anything else please let me know….thanks again…….m

  8. Hello, I was a friend of Steve’s here in AZ. He’s from Minnesota and lived here in the summers. Yes, he was a serious rider and yes I believe the 42 mi ride was one ride! He was on his ride home when this happened. I’m watching the case also and noticed the initial pretrial conference is on 3/11. Thank you so much for following his case! I’m going to relay this to the family and his friends in Minnesota.

  9. statistics from ASDM data for 2009-2011 (queries below)… The combined Bicyclist and Ped rate of hit and run fatality rate is something like 7 times that of motorists (i.e. any passenger of a motor vehicle plus, presumably other, drivers of motor vehicles).

    PED Fatalities BICYCLIST Fatalities DRIVER + PASSENGER Fatals
    H/R fatals Total fatals rate of h/r H/R fatals Total fatals rate of h/r H/R fatals Total fatals rate of h/r
    2009 22 122 18.0% 5 25 20.0% 15 659 2.3%
    2010 26 154 16.9% 1 19 5.3% 17 587 2.9%
    2011 30 154 19.5% 5 23 21.7% 14 648 2.2%
    3 yr total 78 430 18.1% 11 67 16.4% 46 1894 2.4%

    queries, e.g. year 2009:

    SELECT COUNT(1) FROM 2009_person p WHERE InjuryStatus=5 AND ePersonType='PEDALCYCLIST' AND EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2009_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=p.IncidentID AND HitAndRunFlag=1);
    SELECT COUNT(1) FROM 2009_person p WHERE InjuryStatus=5 AND ePersonType='PEDESTRIAN' AND EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2009_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=p.IncidentID AND HitAndRunFlag=1);
    SELECT COUNT(1) FROM 2009_person p WHERE InjuryStatus=5 AND ePersonType='DRIVER' AND EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2009_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=p.IncidentID AND HitAndRunFlag=1);
    SELECT COUNT(1) FROM 2009_person p WHERE InjuryStatus=5 AND ePersonType='PASSENGER' AND EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2009_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=p.IncidentID AND HitAndRunFlag=1);
    query to just count all person fatalities:
    SELECT count(*) from 2009_person where injuryStatus=5;
    query to tally all fatalities by person type:
    SELECT ePersonType,count(1) FROM 2009_person where eInjuryStatus in ('FATAL') GROUP BY 1 ORDER BY 1 ASC LIMIT 50;
  10. AZ Attorney General Thomas Horne was found guilty in M-0741-4596841 of ARS 28-664: Duty on striking unattended vehicle. 28-664

    Attorney General Horne pleads no contest in hit-and-run case
    Posted: 05/08/2013 By: Associated Press
    PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says he’s pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge filed after FBI agents apparently trailing him in a campaign finance case saw him back into a parked SUV while driving a borrowed car. Horne issued a statement Wednesday saying he paid a $300 fine…

  11. Regarding a previously-posed question:

    http://azbikelaw.org/hit-and-run-in-arizona/#comment-16346
    > I wonder exactly what discretion judges have in Arizona for
    > arrangements like permanent driver’s license revocation??

    http://azbikelaw.org/motorist-doctor-convicted-on-all-counts/
    > This revocation leaves me wondering what the deal is with judge’s
    > discretion in sentencing.

    that seems to be answered here:
    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/00603.htm
    G. If a person or an enterprise is convicted of any felony, the court may, in addition to any other sentence authorized by law, order the forfeiture, suspension or revocation of any charter, license, permit or prior approval granted to the person or enterprise by any department or agency of the state or of any political subdivision.

  12. I am told by Tusconians that neither TPD, nor PCSO will even bother to attempt to find the vehicle involved, much less the driver, of a hit-and-run if the victim cannot identify the driver. Even if the victim supplies police with a complete plate number and vehicle descrtiption.

    Can this be?
    It true, it exhibits a profound laziness on the part of TPD and PCSO for not even simply contacting the registered owner of the vehicle (and looking at the vehicle).
    I don’t quite believe it, but I am pointed to some things that were said at a recent TPCBAC meeting (some of the wording is confusing, “nor partial plates”?).
    By contrast the Phoenix PD will “make contact” even on third-party reported parking lot PDO incidents.

    From the minutes of the TPCBAC March 2013 meeting packet:
    http://biketucson.pima.gov/Meetings/Agendas/March%202013%20BAC%20Agenda%20and%20Packet.pdf

    3. Law Enforcement Staff Reports from TPD and PCSD –
    Sgt. Skeenes: Hit and run Jan. 21st Mountain and Lester, emails say there is no follow up on the crash. First, Bicycles are treated the same as every other hit and run incident. Second, if no one can identify the driver,
    neither the County nor City will follow up. Sgt. Slider did follow up on the
    particular case, nor partial plates, no one that can identify the driver

  13. Here’s the rate at which drivers flee as a function of injury severity (worst injury of all involved).

    mysql> SELECT eInjurySeverity, sum(HitAndRunFlag)/count(1) AS HitRunRate FROM 2012_incident GROUP BY 1;

    +---------------------------+------------+
    | eInjurySeverity           | HitRunRate |
    +---------------------------+------------+
    | NO_INJURY                 |     0.1345 |
    | POSSIBLE_INJURY           |     0.0746 |
    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |     0.0712 |
    | INCAPACITATING_INJURY     |     0.0520 |
    | FATAL                     |     0.0472 |
    +---------------------------+------------+
  14. CLAUDIA LYNN BURKE was evidently offered a plea deal, in which she plead guilty to ARS 28-701A (speed gt R&P), a civil traffic violation, in exchange for dismissal of the misdemeanor crime of hit and run with injury. That’s technically wrong, since 701A applies explicitly to “highways”, and not parking lots, where she hit a person afoot. See ARS 28-621.

    http://azdailysun.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/by-the-book/article_c9d1e0fd-265f-5fb9-abb6-5f63a400ecf9.html

  15. The hit and run statutes 28-661 et seq appear to be “strict liability”; it’s not required that a driver fled intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently, just that they did, in fact flee.

    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/00202.htm
    B. If a statute defining an offense does not expressly prescribe a culpable mental state that is sufficient for commission of the offense, no culpable mental state is required for the commission of such offense, and the offense is one of strict liability unless the proscribed conduct necessarily involves a culpable mental state. If the offense is one of strict liability, proof of a culpable mental state will also suffice to establish criminal responsibility.

    Also, notably, 28-672 (and similarly: 675 and 676) Causing serious physical injury or death by a moving violation
    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/00672.htm
    Is also strict liability.

  16. Another one for your records– fatal hit and run from 2002:
    http://azdailysun.com/no-charge-in-crash/article_39b9f5ae-ef81-5c7e-a4fc-7845cb954d3f.html
    Jail sentence initially imposed (8/19/2003) on the driver, then deferred, then deleted (7/16/2004):
    http://www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov/scripts/meeds/qreturn.asp?casenumber=CR2003006188

    PHOENIX (AP) — Police have decided against recommending a manslaughter charge for a 72-year-old driver involved in a hit-and-run accident last month that killed a Phoenix teenager.
    Investigators have recommended that Lila Swanson be charged instead with leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
    They turned their investigation over Friday to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which will review the report and decide whether charges will be filed in the case.
    Daniel Robeson, 15, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle on Oct. 11.
    Police said they did not recommended the manslaughter charge because Swanson was not speeding or impaired when the accident occurred.
    Swanson’s attorney, Steve Suskin, said his client remains shaken about the accident and has not driven since then.

  17. this is shocking/remarkable!!! can it really be almost half of crashes in LA are hit/run?!

    http://laist.com/2013/10/08/stiffer_fines_for_hit-and-runs.php
    “According to the LAPD, there are 20,000 hit-and-runs each year. In an article about the epidemic, the LA Weekly reported that nationwide, 11 percent of vehicle collisions are hit-and-runs, but in L.A., that number is a shocking 48 percent.”

    Here’s a review of the LAWeekly article on la.streetsblog.org “Let’s start with the most revealing statistic. Nationally, 11% of all traffic crashes are hit and runs. In Los Angeles, that number is 48%”… In Arizona, the number is quite close to the 11% number quoted nationally, e.g. in 2012 the split was 91,482 vs. 11,694, or 11.3% … restricting to city of Phoenix is a bit higher at 12.1% (select HitAndRunFlag,count(*) from 2012_incident group by 1; Phoenix is CityID=214)

    In 2013 LAPD released a study on LA’s hit-and-run, however as LAWeekly notes, it whitewashes over the problem by, e.g. selectively choosing NYC and Chicago, and then adjusting their numbers for VMT… viola, LA’s near 50% rate is now somehow better.

    And some commentary from
    bikinginla

  18. These are some great witnesses!!
    One has to wonder how it is police can “issue(d) a citation in lieu of detention”. This is a FELONY (28-661 hit/run w/injury).

    Gilbert has an online search
    CRIMINAL CASE 2013-CT-0017952 State of Arizona vs. Larry Gene Owens
    I can’t see any info there other than that the next court date is arraignment on 11/19/2013
    The defendant seems to have a lot of entries in the justice system, both here (Gilbert) and statewide case lookup (phx muni, ajo justice, N canyon justice). One of the Gilbert entries is for “other crim traffic”; but that was back in 2008.

    http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/20131028gilbert-workers-help-police-catch-hit-run-driver-brk.html
    Three Gilbert town employees helped apprehend a motorist who struck a 15-year-old bicyclist then fled the scene on Oct. 17 (2013)

    Police said Larry G. Owens, 60, allegedly struck the teen at Val Visa Drive and Juniper Avenue. Town utility workers Oscar Fuentes, Mark Hoffman, and Jamie McNamara saw the accident as they were driving to their next job site .

    The three called 911 and then tended to the boy until paramedics could arrive. The unidentified boy was treated at a hospital, but no other information was available.

    Owens was issued a citation in lieu of detention for driving with a suspended license and failure to leave required information at the scene of an accident.

    Gilbert police Lt. Scott Girardin was first on the scene and said the employees “went above and beyond their daily duties to help a citizen in need and the Police Department with their investigation,” according to town spokeswoman Jennifer Alvarez.

    “They had a photograph of the driver, the vehicle, and the license plate,” said Girardin. “The police were able to go to the house and make an arrest. This is a great example of best-in-class service.”

  19. Hit-and-Run trending worse:Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S.
    “the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes is trending upward, from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available. Perhaps more significantly, the 13.7% increase in hit-and-run deaths over that three-year period occurred while traffic deaths overall were falling 4.5%, from 33,883 in 2009 to 32,367 in 2011.”
    The Peter Kissinger, the AAA guy, annoyingly said ” The main thing we can do as a society to sort of combat this problem is to simply be more alert as pedestrians,”
    There we go: blame the victim. problem solved.

  20. Hit-and-run statutes are in Article 4 of “this chapter” (chapter 3) — so those laws apply everywhere thoughout Arizona, not just on roads; they would for example apply in a parking lot…

    28-621. Applicability to vehicles on highways; exceptions
    The provisions of this chapter and chapter 5 of this title relating to the operation of vehicles refer exclusively to the operation of vehicles on highways except:
    1. If a different place is specifically provided by statute.
    2. Article 4 of this chapter and section 28-693 apply on highways and elsewhere throughout this state.

    This comment used to say, apparently in error:
    It seems the HR statutes apply only on “highways”; and not for example on private property. “This chapter” means ch3, which is rules of road, including HR. Kind of surprising.

  21. March 2014: CA getting tough on hit-and-run?
    “The California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve A.B. 1532 (AB Assembly Bill), which would require an automatic license suspension for drivers who flee the scene of a crash where a person is hit, even if that person is not injured…”

  22. This seems to be a pretty typical sentence (1 month plus some probation). As TucsonVelo pointed out a much much longer sentence is possible for this crime; this would have been a class 3 felony. Once again, I will point out, this seems very very light for a class 3 felony. Why do hit-and-runners get this special treatment? Or is the crime mis-categorized?
    With the article about the sentence, there is *nothing*mentioned about license revocation. The law supposedely requires an automatic, 10 year(!) license revocation. For that to be carried out, the court (the Pima County Superior Court) would have to forward the requisite paperwork to ADOT/MVD — did they? Why does nothing in the story mention this? A 10 year loss of their driving privilege seems to me to be both appropriate punishment for a criminal driver a good deterrent to would-be hit-and-run drivers.

    [ http://www.agave.cosc.pima.gov/PublicDocs/GetCase1.aspx?ID=1310180 CR20133485
    I believe there *should* end up with an annotation/minute entry for the document sent to the MVD/DMV. See eg. Abigail Allin CR20111856. That could take a month or so to process, and perhaps more time to add the annotation. ]

    Tucson woman given 1-month in jail, probation in deadly hit-and-run

    February 01, 2014 12:00 am • By Patrick McNamara1
    A woman accused in the deadly hit-and-run of a pedestrian has been sentenced to one month in jail and three years’ probation.

    Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang sentenced Rebecca Lanette Valenzuela on Friday following her guilty plea to fleeing the scene of an accident in August.

    Valenzuela was the driver of a van that struck and killed 29-year-old Angelic Monica Barnes, who was walking across Irvington Road near South Freemont Avenue. She was not in a crosswalk.

    Dozens of Valenzuela’s family members filled the courtroom for Friday’s emotional and tear-filled sentencing.

    Valenzuela and two passengers fled the crash scene and did not contact police until the following day.

    Deputy Pima County Attorney Elizabeth Farkas asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence the plea agreement allowed, citing the pain and suffering the incident caused the victim and the family’s suffering.

    Valenzuela’s attorney, Rubin Salter, said his client fled in a panic.

    The prosecution and family members of Barnes also said Valenzuela attempted to cover up the incident by seeking to have the windshield replaced on her car the day after the crash. Salter said the characterization was inaccurate.

    “The fact is, the person had been called to fix a windshield (on a different car) the day before this happened,” he said. “There was no intent to hide anything.”

    Valenzuela apologized, saying she had taken responsibility for what she did. “I understand leaving the scene was not the right thing to do,” she said.

    In addition to jail and probation, Valenzuela must perform 200 hours of community service, submit to drug and alcohol monitoring and continue any mental-health treatment.

    Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com

  23. Hit-run red new-model Chevy/GMC pickup vs. several pedestrians (walking bicycles on a dirt shoulder) w/serious injury in the west valley/Peoria area.
    4/5/2014 ~ 10pm, 115th Ave south of Happy Valley Road.
    32 y.o. male suspect Eric Nunez was arrested and booked several days later.(the news story just said “5 felony charges”.

    PHOENIX (CBS5)
    Sheriff’s investigators said they’ve arrested a man who veered off the road, hitting three bicyclists Saturday night.
    The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Eric Nunez, 32, was arrested and booked on five felony charges, including fleeing the scene of an accident.
    Maricopa County Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said just after 10 p.m. Saturday, Nunez was driving south on 115th Avenue and had just passed Happy Valley Road when he came upon the bikers. For some reason, the truck swerved to the right.
    At that point, it hit three bicyclists who were walking their bikes on the dirt shoulder. They were identified as Cam Nelson, her 6-year-old son and Lance Taylor.
    “The suspect vehicle did not stop and fled the scene of the collision to the south,” said Enriquez.

  24. Updates to Florida H&R laws blogs.bicycling.com (thanks for the dead link, bicycling magazine!)
    A.k.a. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, SB102. From what i gathered, the new minimums for fatal H&R are 4 years prison + 3 years license suspension
    Haven’t heard any updates on CA updates, la.streetsblog.org AB47 and AB1532.
    Info about hit-and-run from FL’s DMV: note there is much wiggle room for claimed-to-be mandatory sentences, courts can waive them if “mandatory minimum term would constitute or result in an injustice.
    There seem to be a flood of these “florida is cracking down…” stories in the media, e.g. this one regarding Charles Winzenread’s Mercedes SUV case in Clearwater in Oct 2015. Defense lawyers do say funny things.
    In Aug 2016 driver Amanda Dahl escaped FL’s supposedly mandatory minimum prison sentence, Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer said some pretty annoying things, basically saying since Dahl didn’t mean to do it, she shouldn’t get the mandatory minimum sentence for her crime.

  25. Nathan Painter was sentenced in a remarkably sensational collision he cause while intoxicated and then fled the scene.

    “Painter was arrested in October 2013 after officials said he lost control of his pickup truck, causing a rollover crash that injured five people. Two 3-year-old boys were in critical condition following the crash, officials said. One 2-year-old girl was also injured. Chandler police said Painter lost control of his Ford F250 while driving on Ray Road near Arrowhead Drive. Officials said Painter went north off the road and drove through foliage and a retention basin. The truck came up the other side of the basin, sending it airborne. While still in the air, the truck collided with the rear window of a Nissan Pathfinder…Painter continued to drive through a dirt field and back onto Arrowhead Drive…” — azcentral.com

    I’ve never seen such a long rap sheet, over a dozen traffic violations; including previous (multiple?) DUI (also check justice courts lookup, some cases overlap but not all of them). One has to wonder what more should be done to keep people safe from such pathologically bad drivers?

    Case Minutes for CR2013453879 The plea minute is there, but the sentencing minute isn’t yet up. He plead guilty to 2 counts agg assault, and leaving the scene of serious injury; all stipulated as “dangerous” (unusual, but perhaps because of his abysmal driving record?). Ah, in the final done deal sentence, the hit-and-run is, as usual, downgraded from dangerous to non-dangerous, and downgraded from a class 2 to a class 3 (indicating the defendant didn’t “cause” the collision). I imagine the non-dangerous business is necessary to make the sentencing work out that he gets no incarceration for the hit-and-run. He should be subject to the 5/10 year license revocation (“joey’s law”) once he gets out.

  26. For reference purposes here are definitions of the hit-and-run field.
    This is a bright-line distinction, either the driver(s) remained at the scene or not. If the driver is not there, it is a hit-and-run; regardless of why the driver left (didn’t know; went out for help; went for cigaretters, whatever).

    AZ Crash manual:
    Hit & Run – A crash may be considered hit and run if any driver involved in the event fled the scene, even if the driver later was apprehended or reported the crash at a later time. Enter the Unit # of the vehicle that fled the scene in the blank. If more than one unit left the scene
    list all units.
    (asdm notes: there were a couple of dozen occurences in 2009, and none in 2010-2014 where the hitandrunflag in the incident table was inconsistent with the flag in the unit table)

    MMUCC 4th Ed:
    V23. Hit and Run
    Definition: Refers to cases where the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle in transport is a contact vehicle in the crash and departs the scene without stopping to render aid or report the crash. Attributes:
    • No, Did Not Leave Scene
    • Yes, Driver or Car and Driver Left Scene
    Rationale: Important for uniformity, quality control and identification purposes in reported motor vehicle crash statistics.

    FARS 2010 Analytic Reference Manual p.114:
    V6 Hit and Run
    Definition: This element indicates whether the vehicle was a contact vehicle in the crash that
    did not stop to render aid (this can include drivers who flee the scene on foot).

Comments are closed.