Hit and Run Laws in

Illinois


(625 ILCS 5/Ch. 11 Art. IV heading)
ARTICLE IV. ACCIDENTS
(625 ILCS 5/11-401) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-401)
Sec. 11-401. Motor vehicle accidents involving death or personal injuries.

(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

(b) Any person who has failed to stop or to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) shall, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after such motor vehicle accident, or, if hospitalized and incapacitated from reporting at any time during such period, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after being discharged from the hospital, report the place of the accident, the date, the approximate time, the driver's name and address, the registration number of the vehicle driven, and the names of all other occupants of such vehicle, at a police station or sheriff's office near the place where such accident occurred. No report made as required under this paragraph shall be used, directly or indirectly, as a basis for the prosecution of any violation of paragraph (a).

For purposes of this Section, personal injury shall mean any injury requiring immediate professional treatment in a medical facility or doctor's office.

(c) Any person failing to comply with paragraph (a) shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

(d) Any person failing to comply with paragraph (b) is guilty of a Class 3 felony if the motor vehicle accident does not result in the death of any person. Any person failing to comply with paragraph (b) when the accident results in the death of any person is guilty of a Class 2 felony, for which the person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years.

(e) The Secretary of State shall revoke the driving privilege of any person convicted of a violation of this Section.

(Source: P.A. 93-684, eff. 1-1-05.)

(720 ILCS 5/3-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 3-5)
Sec. 3-5. General Limitations.

(a) A prosecution for: (1) first degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, concealment of homicidal death, treason, arson, aggravated arson, forgery, or (2) any offense involving sexual conduct or sexual penetration as defined by Section 12-12 of this Code in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense and the identity of the offender is unknown after a diligent investigation by law enforcement authorities, may be commenced at any time. Clause (2) of this subsection (a) applies if either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 2 years after the commission of the offense unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided in Section 3-6 or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

(b) Unless the statute describing the offense provides otherwise, or the period of limitation is extended by Section 3-6, a prosecution for any offense not designated in Subsection (a) must be commenced within 3 years after the commission of the offense if it is a felony, or within one year and 6 months after its commission if it is a misdemeanor.

(Source: P.A. 92-752, eff. 8-2-02; 93-834, eff. 7-29-04.)

(720 ILCS 5/3-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 3-5)
Sec. 3-5. General Limitations.

a) A prosecution for: (1) first degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injuries under Section 11-401 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, failing to give information and render aid under Section 11-403 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, concealment of homicidal death, treason, arson, aggravated arson, forgery, or (2) any offense involving sexual conduct or sexual penetration as defined by Section 12-12 of this Code in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense and the identity of the offender is unknown after a diligent investigation by law enforcement authorities, may be commenced at any time. Clause (2) of this subsection (a) applies if either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 2 years after the commission of the offense unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided in Section 3-6 or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

30 (b) Unless the statute describing the offense provides otherwise, or the period of limitation is extended by Section 3-6, a prosecution for any offense not designated in Subsection (a) must be commenced within 3 years after the commission of the offense if it is a felony, or within one year and 6 months after its commission if it is a misdemeanor.

(Source: P.A. 92-752, eff. 8-2-02; 93-834, eff. 7-29-04.)

News

November 9, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich eliminates statute of limitations on hit-and-run accidents starting today

Law named after 6-year-old hit-and-run victim Patrick Leahy

CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law that immediately gives prosecutors the authority they need to go after hit and run drivers. Senate Bill 1943 makes a law eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecuting drivers involved in hit and run accidents effective immediately. The original legislation, House Bill 885 sponsored by Rep. Susana A. Mendoza (D-Chicago) and Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Lombard) and signed by Gov. Blagojevich in August, gave investigators and prosecutors more time to find and bring to justice drivers who leave the scene of an accident. But, that law wasn’t to go into effect until January 1st, 2006.

The law was inspired by the hit and run death of six-year old Patrick Leahy in suburban Winfield, Illinois, whose killer was not found before the legal statute of limitation ran out. SB 1943 was sponsored by Rep. Mendoza and Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Roselle).

“We shouldn’t wait another minute to hold drivers accountable for hit and run accidents like the one that took Patrick’s young life. Those who flee from responsibility after an accident should not be able to get off the hook just because enough time has passed,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Now, we can give law enforcement all the time they need to solve hit-and-runs and bring justice to the people who are hurt as a result of careless drivers.”

The Patrick Leahy Law eliminates the current three-year statute of limitation for prosecution of cases involving drivers who leave the scene of an accident and the current one and a half year statute of limitation for failing to give information or aid following a car crash that results in death, personal injury or damage to an attended vehicle. The Governor’s signature on SB 1943 makes the law effective immediately, rather than on January 1, 2006, which was the effective date of the original law.

“Thanks to this quick action, families whose cases would have run out before January 2006 can now have their cases heard. Removing the statute of limitations on these crimes will allow that families are not victimized twice – once by the tragedy involving their loved ones, and a second one by our own laws,” said Rep. Mendoza. “I am extremely grateful to Governor Blagojevich for understanding the need to move the effective date of this legislation forward, and I also thank him on behalf of the family of Patrick Leahy.”

“In August, the Governor signed the ‘Patrick Leahy Law’ to eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents. Named after the six-year-old hit-and-run victim in Winfield, the new law was supposed to take effect Jan. 1, 2006,” Sen. Pankau said. “However, we learned there are several pending hit-and-run cases that would have slipped though the cracks before then, so we passed Senate Bill 1943 to make sure that those cases will continue and, we hope, be resolved.”

Patrick Leahy was riding his bicycle with his 9-year-old brother and several friends near downtown Winfield on August 17, 1999, when he was struck and killed by a truck, possibly from a rental company. Despite an intense investigation that included posting thousands of fliers and hypnotizing a witness, Winfield Police and the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force have never found the male driver.


From The Northwest Herald
12/4/2005

Fleeing through loophole

By Rob Phillips
rphillips@nwherald.com

Pretend you're driving with your family one evening and a drunken driver crosses the center line and strikes your vehicle head-on.

You and your family are alive but seriously injured.

As you peer out the windshield, you see the offending driver drive away from the scene, rather than help.

Although that driver might not be acting responsibly, he could have just shaved up to seven years off his prison sentence.

Two McHenry County car accidents in two weeks resulting in a fatality or critical injuries have included people who allegedly ran from the crash scenes.

Although state law was changed this year to eliminate any incentive to flee drunken-driving accidents that involve death, the punishment for drunken-driving accidents resulting in serious injuries do not discourage people from running.

"I would guess that is something that we have overlooked," said state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-Crystal Lake. "And since it has now been brought to my attention, it will be something that we will look into."

If a person is drinking and leaves the scene of an injury accident, it is difficult to charge that person with driving under the influence because of the time gap between the accident and when the person is located, prosecutors said.

Police can charge the offender with leaving the scene of an injury accident and failure to report an injury accident, which carry maximum sentences of five years in prison.

If the same person were charged with aggravated driving under the influence that results in an injury accident, he could face up to 12 years in prison.

Police say Sage K. Brekka, of Crystal Lake, struck and injured two pedestrians with his car on Aug. 18 in Woodstock before driving off.

Despite Brekka's own admission that he had been drinking that night, police said they could not charge him with more than leaving the scene and failure to report the accident. He could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, compared with 12 years in prison if he was convicted of driving under the influence in an accident that injured someone.

Walter C. Sander, 20, of Hebron, was charged Nov. 25 with leaving the scene, and failure to report an injury accident near Hebron. Police say Sander ran away from an accident and left his passenger, who was flown to a nearby hospital, in critical condition.

Police still are trying to determine whether drugs or alcohol played a factor in the crash. Sander currently could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if convicted.

But police have charged people who left accident scenes with driving under the influence, said Brad Fralick, adviser to the Illinois secretary of state on driving-under-the-influence issues. Police always can try to piece together the offender's actions before the crash, Fralick said.

"And then those people could be charged with both offenses, leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated DUI," Fralick said. "They then could face multiple offenses."

McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said that he did not think that people fled because they knew the law. Bianchi said he thought that it was uncertain whether tougher penalties would be a deterrent.

"I think it is more to do with the whole culture," Bianchi said. "There's been a breakdown in accepting responsibility."

A change in state law, effective this past Jan. 1, makes the penalty the same for people leaving the scene of an accident involving death and for those people driving drunk in an accident involving death.

The new law now means Nicholas Jancovic, 21, of Marengo, could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison for allegedly leaving the scene of an Aug. 6 accident that killed one of his passengers and seriously injured another. Police have said that Jancovic was drinking the night of the accident, but he could not be charged with drunken driving.

But Jancovic faces the same sentence he would if he were convicted of driving drunk and causing the fatal accident.

"The change in the law was to discourage people from running away from the scene of the accident," McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Rebecca Lee said. "They are facing the same class of offense and the same type of punishment."

Area politicians said the same changes needed to be made regarding drunken-driving accidents involving injury but not death. If people leave the scene of an injury accident, they should face the same penalties as if they were drunk, said state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock.

"The fact that the law was not already changed was probably an unintended consequence," Franks said. "I think we should punish those people severely who don't stand up to their obligations."

McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said that until the law was changed, he would discourage anyone from leaving the scene of any accident.

"We will find you and you will be prosecuted," Nygren said. "They call them accidents for a reason. People are willing to accept an accident. They are not willing to accept when others lie, cover-up and try to change the facts."

Source



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