Monday, August 20, 2007

State v. Jay C. Fisher

08-14-07 A-3026-05T3

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, a driver involved in a
motor vehicle accident that results in the death of another
person is guilty of a crime if the driver fails to comply with
the requirements of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. The driver must either
remain at the scene to provide his or her driving credentials to
designated persons or report the accident and his or her
identity to the nearest officer of the local police department,
county police or the State Police. Compliance with those
requirements would preclude prosecution under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-

Moreover, compliance with those requirements would not
violate the driver's privilege against self-incrimination. As
the United States Supreme Court recognized in California v.
Byers, disclosure of name and address is essentially a neutral
act and most accidents occur without creating criminal
liability. Under the facts of this case, there was no
reasonable basis for the driver to apprehend prosecution,
inasmuch as the decedent had been crouching or lying near the
middle of the road. If, under different facts, compliance with
the statutory requirements did pose a legitimate risk of selfincrimination,
it might be necessary to accord compliant drivers
use or derivative-use immunity as outlined in State v. Patton.