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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GERALD H. KAUFFMAN (09/23/83)

submitted: September 23, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GERALD H. KAUFFMAN, APPELLANT



No. 309 Harrisburg 1982, APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE OF AUGUST 9, 1982 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF ADAMS COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. CC-120-79

COUNSEL

Kenneth Lee Rotz, Gettysburg, for appellant.

Roy A. Keefer, Assistant District Attorney, Gettysburg, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wieand, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ. Wieand, J., files a concurring statement.

Author: Cirillo

[ 323 Pa. Super. Page 364]

This appeal requires us to decide whether under certain circumstances a driver can be guilty of a violation of section

[ 323 Pa. Super. Page 3653743]

of the Vehicle Code (duty to stop at the scene of an accident involving damage to attended property) despite his unawareness of having been in an accident.

On February 27, 1979, Roger T. Smith was driving his car north on South Franklin Street in Gettysburg. He stopped at the intersection of South Franklin and Chambersburg Streets, preparing to turn right onto Chambersburg Street.

At that time a moving van traveling west on Chambersburg turned left onto South Franklin in front of Smith's car. Smith saw that the van was turning too short and blew his horn and tried to back up. Before he could do so the left rear wheel well of the van caught the left front of Smith's car, pushing the car about five feet and crushing its bumper and fender against its wheel. The van did not stop or slow down, but continued normally on down South Franklin Street.

Mr. Smith turned his car around and followed the van out of Gettysburg, but could not catch up with it because of traffic. He stopped at a Pennsylvania State Police barracks along the route and reported the accident. The desk officer at the barracks pursued the van and soon caught up with it. Upon stopping the van, the officer observed that it was damaged near the left rear wheel. The van driver, Gerald Kauffman, explained that he was unaware his van had struck the Smith auto. Kauffman voluntarily returned to the scene with the state trooper.

Harvey Baker, a pedestrian, and David Lutcher, driving his automobile behind the van, had also witnessed the accident. Baker saw and heard the impact and took the van's license number. Lutcher, who had his radio on and his windows up, saw the collision but heard nothing.

Gettysburg police cited Kauffman for a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. ยง 3743, which reads:

Accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property.

(a) General rule. -- The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other

[ 323 Pa. Super. Page 366]

    property which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of section 3744 (relating to duty to give information and render aid). Every stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

(b) Penalty. -- Any person violating this section is guilty of a summary offense, punishable by a fine of $300 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.

Kauffman was found guilty of the offense at a hearing before a district justice, and at a trial de novo before President Judge Oscar F. Spicer of the Adams County Court of Common Pleas. Kauffman was sentenced to pay a fine of $300 and court costs, and he appealed. President Judge Spicer filed an ...


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