Apparently the news about crime comes from police department news releases. To prepare this post about Leaving the Scene of an Accident, I read a news item that began, “Lopatcong Township police responding to a crash scene early Wednesday found a traffic light knocked down, but no vehicle, according to a news release.” http://www.nj.com/warren/index.ssf/2017/01/drunken_driver_leaves_crash_scene_outside_phillips.html (emphasis added) (last visited January 19, 2017). Surprisingly, the reporter did not write about his independent investigation.
In general, I like and understand the value of news releases for publicity and public relations. Indeed, I have sent them to press contacts for my American Legion Post and Kiwanis Club.
But is it “business as usual” for the media to run stories from the government without any independent investigation? Do literary devices such as “according to a news release,” “police say,” and “they say” establish media objectivity? Additionally, doesn’t the media lack objectivity when it publishes an item written by any branch of government without investigation? Furthermore, doesn’t this turn the media into a propaganda machine?
Frankly, I would like to thank this reporter. I understand he is, in certain respects, a cog in the wheel. Therefore, I have no particular quarrel with him. Furthermore, I do not know him personally or professionally. Indeed, I have witnessed the trend online where people “shame and blame” others. Sometimes this occurs between complete strangers. Personally, I find those interactions distasteful, to say the least. Therefore, I do not intend to single out this reporter for criticism. Besides, everyone knows “flame wars” suck.
I understand some might disagree with questioning an entire industry based on one item. Indeed, some might view this as an unfair generalization.
Ordinarily I take the news with a proverbial grain of salt. Despite these personal misgivings, and despite my heightened skepticism about this particular item, I have provided the URL above. In my opinion, I think each member of the media industry should prove their objectivity with every item published. But I rarely witness this in practice. Additionally, given my general skepticism about the news, I am not going to castigate one individual. Without more information, it seems to me he was probably doing what his bosses told him to do.
Instead, this demonstrates a few reasons to read or view the news with skepticism.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident, N.J.S.A. 39:4-129
The driver of any vehicle, knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person shall immediately stop the vehicle, without obstructing traffic more than is necessary, at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section.
The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle, including his own vehicle, or other property…attended by any person shall immediately stop his vehicle, without obstructing traffic more than is necessary, at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible, but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of such accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section.
The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage to any vehicle or property shall give his name and address and exhibit his operator’s license and registration certificate of his vehicle to the person injured or whose vehicle or property he damaged and to any police officer or witness of the accident, and to the driver or occupants of the vehicle collided with and render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying of that person to a hospital or a physician for medical or surgical treatment, if treatment appears necessary or requested by the injured person.
In the event that none of the persons specified are in condition to receive the information to which they otherwise would be entitled under this subsection, and no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such accident after fulfilling all other requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, insofar as possible on his part to be performed, shall forthwith report such accident to the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and submit thereto the information specified in this subsection.
The driver of any vehicle which knowingly collides with or knowingly involved in an accident with any unattended vehicle or other property resulting in any damage to such vehicle or other property
- shall immediately stop and
- shall then and there locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle or other property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or other property or,
- in the event an unattended vehicle is struck and the driver or owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on such vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle doing the striking or,
- in the event other property is struck and the owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall notify the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and in addition shall notify the owner of the property as soon as the owner can be identified and located.
There shall be a permissive inference that the driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage in the amount of $250.00 or more to any vehicle or property has knowledge that he was involved in such accident.
For purposes of this section, it shall not be a defense that the operator of the motor vehicle was unaware of the existence or extent of personal injury or property damage caused by the accident as long as the operator was aware that he was involved in an accident.
There shall be a permissive inference that the registered owner of the vehicle which was involved in an accident subject to the provisions of this section was the person involved in the accident; provided, however, if that vehicle is owned by a rental car company or is a leased vehicle, there shall be a permissive inference that the renter or authorized driver pursuant to a rental car contract or the lessee, and not the owner of the vehicle, was involved in the accident, and the requirements and penalties imposed pursuant to this section shall be applicable to that renter or authorized driver or lessee and not the owner of the vehicle.
Any person who suppresses, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of a violation of this section or who suppresses the identity of the violator shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 or more than $1,000.
Fines: $2,500 to $5,000
Jail: 180 days
License Forfeiture, First Offense: one year
License Forfeiture, Subsequent Offense: Permanently
Fines, First Offense: up to $400
Fines, Subsequent Offense: up to $600
Jail, First Offense: 30 days
Jail, Subsequent Offense 90 days
License Forfeiture, First Offense: six months
License Forfeiture, Subsequent Offense: one year
See penalties for subsection (b) of this section.
New Jersey Trial Lawyer Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all cases involving leaving an accident scene. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.